'She's such an inspiration' says Sask. woman of visiting speaker Michelle Obama

More than 8,500 were expected to attend the nearly sold-out event in Saskatoon.

More than 8,500 people expected to attend former first lady's Saskatoon appearance

Veronica Armbruster, centre, brought her grandaughters Isabella, left, and Lily, right, to Thursday night's talk with Michelle Obama in Saskatoon. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

More than 8,500 people, predominantly women, filed into Saskatoon's  SaskTel Centre Thursday night to hear former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speak.

Billed as "an inspirational evening," Obama's talk was sponsored by the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce.

Veronica Armbruster brought her granddaughters Isabella and Lily.

"I thought Michelle Obama would be somebody that we'd all like to hear. I think she's got something interesting to say. She's lived an interesting life," said Arumbruster.

"She has talked a lot about nutrition and she's very smart and intelligent," said Lily.

Victoria Chrispin of Regina, left, and a friend arrive early for the show. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Victoria Chrispin travelled from Regina for the show. Her daughter shares the same name as one of Barack Obama's grandmothers.

"She's such an inspiration," Chrispin said of Michelle Obama. "She's a leader, a role model, and she's my idol. One important thing she always talks about is education. Education is very important to me as a mother. I'd like for my children to continue their education."

The chamber's CEO, Darla Lindbjerg, moderated the discussion with Obama, which kicked off at 7 p.m. CST.

Obama has touched on a variety of subjects during previous stops on her speaking tour such as social media, raising kids and the challenges she faced as the first African-American to serve as the first lady.

Nearly sold out

Doors for SaskTel Centre audience members opened at 6 p.m.

As of around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, there were still 100 tickets available online and at the SaskTel Centre box office for Obama's appearance.

Saskatoon is the smallest Canadian city so far on Obama's speaking tour. (Charles Rex Arbogast/The Associated Press)

"Please plan to arrive in plenty of time to clear security and note that photography and videography is prohibited," the chamber wrote Thursday on Facebook.

Murad Al-Katib, the president and CEO of Regina-based pulse supplier AGT Foods, was one of several people to introduce Obama.

Staff at the Saskatoon Tourism office were clearly excited today in the lead-up to the talk.

Ditto this guy.

Saskatoon is the smallest Canadian city to host Obama. She spoke to a sold-out crowd in Vancouver last month and is headed to Calgary Friday night.

Obama's star appearance comes as the debate begins about whether to replace the 30-year-old SaskTel Centre.

One of the arguments for building a new arena, consultants have said, is that the arena's aging infrastructure may prevent it from attracting large acts.

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

Reporter and web writer for CBC Saskatoon

Story tips, ideas, complaints, just want to say 'Hi'? Write me at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca