Kids chased Thomas the tank Engine as he spewed bubbles and raced around the mini track during the 2014 Family Day celebrations at the Coombs Fairgrounds. The fourth annual free Family Day will at the fairgrounds from 1-4 p.m. Monday

Kids chased Thomas the tank Engine as he spewed bubbles and raced around the mini track during the 2014 Family Day celebrations at the Coombs Fairgrounds. The fourth annual free Family Day will at the fairgrounds from 1-4 p.m. Monday

Fairgrounds fêtes Family Day

Fourth annual free event scheduled for Monday at Coombs Fairgrounds

When the Coombs Fair committee planned its celebration for the new B.C. Family Day holiday in 2013, the event had no history.

This forced organizers into a bit of guesswork as they budgeted for the day.

“We geared up for 200 people,” said Janet Boley. “And we had over 2,500 show up. We just didn’t know.

“It was a hoot.”

The fourth annual Family Day Celebration is set for next Monday, Feb. 5 from

1 to 4 p.m. at the Coombs Fairgrounds.

The event is free to all, including the hot dogs and cookies. And this time,  organizers are prepared for a lot more than 200 people.

“That first year, we were all phoning our husbands and telling them, ‘Go buy all the hot dogs and buns you can find!’” said Debbie Adkins, who handles publicity. “It was quite hilarious. By the time they were done, I don’t think you could find a hot dog or bun on the mid-Island.”

In the two years since that wild debut, crowds have settled into the 1,200 to 1,500 range. The event, which is used to promote the annual Coombs Fair, is supported by the Regional District of Nanaimo.

Boasting a sheep theme, the Family Day event will offer games, prizes and interactive fun for kids, including decorating — and eating — cookies in the shape of sheep; a sheep treasure hunt to earn swimming and skating passes from the RDN; a family photo booth, a variety of fair-style demonstrations and much more, said Boley.

To ease the parking crush, a shuttle will run every

15 minutes from the nearby Coombs Rodeo Grounds parking lot.