LOOKING UP- Fair-goers looked up from their seats on the Fireball on the midway at Westerner Days during last year’s event. Express file photo

Westerner Days showing pride for Canada this year

Annual event is packed with all kinds of family-friendly fun

In celebration of Canada’s 150th, folks planning this year’s 126th annual Westerner Days Fair & Exposition thought about everything that makes us Canadian.

CEO of Westerner Park Ben Antifaiff said the theme of celebration came to mind when thinking about what they do at Westerner Park.

Keeping it close to home this year with it being Canada’s big birthday celebration, the team looked at an all Canadian line-up of talent as just one of the many ways to celebrate the country.

“I have to say that’s probably one thing we’re most proud of is we can truly say all of our main stage and the lounge and beer garden entertainment is all Canadian and has a pretty decent local flair to it as well.”

From July 19th to the 23rd, the people of Red Deer and visitors to the area will come together in celebration to pay tribute to the country. Kicking off country night on Wednesday will be Juno Award winner Jess Moskaluke as the headliner with Hey Romeo and Nice Horse as the two opening acts. Thursday night is classic rock night with Kim Mitchell co-headlining with Chilliwack.

On Friday night, Tom Cochrane will take the stage, and closing up the performances Saturday night will be Jocelyn Alice and Coleman Hell.

“We think that that’s a really strong, strong main stage entertainment line-up this year.”

And it doesn’t stop there, as food too is of course important when walking around the busy grounds.

“When we thought about programming we tried to come up with some new choices for food programming in our Grub Hub, and we’re excited to say we have a smoked meat vendor, so Bushmen’s Smokehouse is I think going to be quite appealing.

“I’m certain once you get on the grounds you’ll be able to smell where that’s coming from and we’ll certainly get some people pretty happy.”

Other food stops include the Perogy Hut, a new coffee and kettle corn vendor, and if the weather is nice, a slush zone. Some of the favourites too will be back including European Sausage and The Hot Chihuahua Mexican Grill.

Although this is only Antifaiff’s second fair as part of the organization, he said the feedback has been about having a broad range of programming where they have strong agricultural events that are appealing to the urban population as well.

“And it fits in a little bit with our mandate this year to bridge the gap between urban and rural and help urban folks understand a little bit more the importance of our rural roots,” he said.

He said there’s also the broad range of programming from death-defying acts like Nerveless Nocks to entertainment like the West Coast Lumberjills and Safari Jeff, who has some great programming for kids. There will also be some of the regulars that people look for like Bandaloni and the Cutest Show on Earth and Doo Doo The Clown.

This year will also see a new dog show, which Antifaiff said should be popular.

And, he said, they can’t forget about their partners at North American Midway and West Coast Amusements who are bringing back the Zipper again, which has been back now for two years.

When asked what the big hit of Westerner Days is, he said there isn’t just one big hit, as he said he feels it’s important to have a hit in all aspects of their programming.

“Our main stage entertainment is strong. We have two family days where we offer discounts for families to come and enjoy the fair. We feel we have a good, broad range of fair food and some healthy options for fair-goers,” he said.

He said their Holiday Inn 19th Street Market has a good variety of vendors, which will see over 100 exhibitors demonstrating, showcasing and providing samples of their products.

The venue is also home to My Antique Portrait, Lockdown Escape Rooms, Spudniks, Central Alberta Garment District (Clothing), Thelma’s Goodies, and more.

Right beside the market, people can also take in the sounds and relax at Mike’s Hard Lounge, presented by 100.7 CRUZ FM and KRAZE 101.3 FM. There will be nightly shows by Aussie Rules Dueling Pianos and special appearances by Jason Bertsch and Alicia Aichelle that are sure to impress audiences.

The Bud Barn and Beer Gardens, presented by ZED 98.9 FM, will have four nights of live entertainment with performances by Dean Ray, Drew Gregory and Aichelle on the Chillabong’s Stage.

As part of the year-round partnership, Shaw will be providing all attendees of Westerner Days with access to Shaw Go WiFi. With free WiFi access in areas, all attendees will be able to share their Westerner Days experience with family, friends and the community.

Antifaiff said on Sunday they will also bring the community together for their non-denominational Morning of Faith celebration service where they collect donations for the food bank, and anyone that attends the service can stay on the grounds and enjoy the fair.

Check out www.westernerdays.ca.