Marc Bence/for metro edmonton
The marketing gurus behind Capital Ex may want to include “big attendance” to their slogan, “Big fun, big value, big shows and big shopping,” since this year’s 10-day event was their third-highest on record.
A total of 772,692 people walked through the gates for the 128-year-old exhibition, concluding yesterday, up 84,323 people from last year’s affair.
“Edmonton’s biggest summer celebration truly turned out to be our biggest celebration,” said Laura Gadowsky, volunteer director for Northlands, a non-profit group that hosts the annual event.
“It really proved that our programming was fabulous this year with the Explore Dinosaurs to the Family Fun Town.”
A variety of acts including Walking With Dinosaurs: The Live Experience, featuring life-size, animatronic dinosaurs, a butterfly exhibit and ten days of hot, sunny weather, all contributed to this year’s higher draw in visitors, she added.
The internationally-renowned dinosaur show made its Canadian debut during this year’s Capital Ex, becoming the largest attended family production ever hosted at Rexall Place.
The Peking Acrobats, a troop of elaborate stunt gymnasts, also contributed to the high attendance since it was a free show, included in gate admission.
“People who want to see their show in Toronto have to pay $80, while it was free with admission here,” said Gadowsky.
Other hits for adults included an upscale European-style lounge called Sip! that offered culinary and cocktail tips while ED Fest rocked a side stage near the midway with musical acts like Finger Eleven and Weird Al.
But this year’s festival didn’t break the record-keeping 810,502 visitors who attended the 2005 event, then under the name of Klondike Days.
Organizers say the World Masters Games, which brought in athletes, tourists and media attention from around the world, boosted attendance that year.
The previous record for the exhibition was broken in 1992 with 776,125 visitors.