The 2017 Westerner Days Fair & Exposition has concluded with a total of 90,533 visitors. Saturday drew the largest crowd of the fair with more than 22,000 people going through the gates, followed closely by Thursday with over 20,000 attendees.
“We are very, very pleased with the fair. Attendance is on par within a five to 10 year average, so that shows us that Central Albertans like coming to our fair and are having a good time,” said Ben Antifaiff, CEO and general manager of Westerner Park. “From my interaction with some of our guests, it was positive. Some of the new programming was well received and some of the small changes with adding a couple new food vendors, definitely got some attention. Those are the kinds of things we’ll definitely continue to innovate on and continue to refresh our fair.”
Wednesday’s parade kicked off the festivities with 136 entries. The winner of the Grand Award was Blue Grass Nursery, Sod & Garden Centre with their princess themed float, complete with an enchanted forest and a Cinderella carriage. Honourable mention was the Alberta Motor Association (AMA).
There were 48 chuckwagons competing in this year’s Red Deer Motors North American Pony Chuckwagon Championship. This year’s first place winner after five nights of racing was Lee Adamson with a total time of 6:26:45. Adamson was also the winner of the $2,500 Dash for Cash. Louis Johner came in second place with a total time of 6:27:46.
We All Play, a program sponsored by Stantec with their charity of choice Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre and NOVA Chemicals with their charity of choice, Family Services of Central Alberta, was back for 2017. This program helped more than 150 different families experience Westerner Days. Passes, which included complimentary parking, food and admission, were distributed to families that would otherwise not be able to attend due to financial constraints.
Some of the Westerner Days entertainers also participated in Share the Fair, a program created to bring a taste of the fair to children who may not be able to attend due to an illness. Doo Doo the Clown, Bandaloni and The Magic of Aaron Matthews participated.
A highlight of the fair was Tom Cochrane’s performance with Red Rider on Friday evening in the ENMAX Centrium, which drew in over 4,600 fans. The concert included a special guest appearance by Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar. Other headliners for the fair included Jess Moskaluke, Chilliwack and Kim Mitchell, and Coleman Hell.
“It was a great event. We do our best to create a fun show with something new for Central Albertans,” said Antifaiff.
He added planning for next year’s Westerner Days will begin on Tuesday.