Get out and see region with the Country Drive

Popular summer Central Alberta tourist event kicks off this weekend

This weekend is an opportunity for Central Albertans to get out and see the sights in and around their communities.

Elna Edgar, one of the organizers and participants in Country Drive, said the idea behind the event is to promote local tourism in the area.

“What got it going was actually Alberta Agriculture’s initiative back in 2004. Several ideas came up and one was the Country Drive,” said Edgar.

Many local tourist sites got together and decided to promote each other with the drive.

“It makes it more appealing for customers if they can find more than one thing to do when they drive out into an area.”

Edgar said the event is important because many people are unaware what attractions lie right in their back yard. “People don’t have to be driving 500 miles to find some really cool and interesting stuff to do. There is a lot right here and this event keeps the money local.”

Edgar runs an asparagus farm and said many people don’t know much about it.

“Asparagus is not something that’s normally grown in the area so when people come here we educate them about the unique things we’re doing.”

She said at the asparagus farms they will have a petting zoo as well as a booth set up to teach kids about agriculture.

“The booth will also teach kids what some of the products in the grocery store contain. It’s all about teaching them now because they’re tomorrow’s consumers.”

Other participants in the Country Drive include museums, wildlife centres, farms and greenhouses.

“Some of the sites have an emphasis on history and showing people that this country didn’t just start like it is. There is a history to everything we do and we need to preserve that history and the knowledge of how things came to be.”

One of the included sites is Ellis Bird Farm which Edgar said is an especially fun place to visit. “It’s an amazing experience there and it’s all about nature and wildlife. It’s the same with the Medicine River Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. These places are all about what is here in this place we call home.”

Some of the participants will be charging admission for the extra events they are running for the weekend but some are completely free as well. Edgar said to simply phone around and find out what might suit your family and the kinds of things you would like to get out and see.

The Country Drive has been running since 2005 and Edgar said it is entirely weather dependant whether or not people take part, but she said even still the numbers are growing and that many people take part from year to year.

“We’ve added new sites this year and every year. You can’t get out and see everything in one day so maybe this year you visit four or five sites and plan to visit four or five more next year.”

This year’s Spring Showcase Country Drive weekend event runs June 2-3.

“There are definitely more and more people hearing about it and taking part. It’s not Disneyworld but there is a lot of interesting stuff to see that people maybe never knew about.”

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