BIG RACE – Emily Holmes races ahead of Matt Bailey on one of the big slides during Westerner Days.

BIG RACE – Emily Holmes races ahead of Matt Bailey on one of the big slides during Westerner Days.

Records hit for attendance during Westerner Days

  • Jul. 22, 2015 3:00 p.m.

Two attendance records were broken during this year’s Westerner Days which took place in Red Deer this past week.

On Saturday a new attendance record was set as 27,752 people took in the sights and sounds of the annual event. The previous record was set in 2011 with 26,825 people attending Westerner Days.

As well, on Sunday, a second attendance record was set. On the last day of Westerner Days, 22,478 attended the Grounds.

Over the course of the five-day event, 99,614 people attended Westerner Days. An overall attendance record of 102,665 people was set in 2012.

“Overall we had an amazing turn out for Westerner Days. It’s something that the community really rallies behind and takes the opportunity to come out and celebrate and enjoy themselves. It is really nice to see,” said Meghan Gustum, marketing manager for Westerner Park.

She added the event included 10 free concerts over five days which was well received by fair-goers.

“It was really well received. The attendance for the concerts every night was strong,” said Gustum. “We try and make as much free as possible once you pay your admission. We want people to be able to take in as much as they can.”

As well, a new event this year, The Morning of Faith, which was held on Sunday, saw thousands coming to the Grounds to enjoy a non-denominational service.

“We had 2,500 people out for the service in the morning. It was just such a positive show of community support and all of the churches coming together.”

Meanwhile, as for the pony chucks, the races didn’t run Thursday and Friday night due to do the condition of the track after Red Deer saw heavy rainfall. The first night of the races on Wednesday was also cut short as during intermission after a storm rolled through causing the conditions of the track to deteriorate.

“This year was a tough year for the pony chucks and it was definitely an anomaly for us – we can’t remember in history when we’ve had to do that (cancel the event for multiple days),” said Gustum. “It’s the safety of the animals and the drivers that is the priority and it was a tough decision but we had to make that call.”

The pony chucks were able to run Saturday and Sunday with Marvin Hubl winning the Red Deer Motors North American Pony Chuckwagon Championship. Neil Salmond came in second place. Salmond also won the $2,500 Dash for Cash.

In addition, Westerner Park officials are already gearing up for next year’s events – the 125th anniversary of both Westerner Park and Westerner Days.

“We’ve already started planning for our big anniversary. It’s a huge milestone for us.”