CANADIAN EH - Ida and Grant Nielsen enjoy their time celebrating Canada Day at the Bower Ponds festivities last year. Local residents have lots to look forward to in terms of special events planned for this summer. file photo

WATCH: Loads of summer events await Central Albertans

From CentreFest to Westerner Days, there will much to explore this season

Summertime on the local front will be packed with all kinds of fun and exciting events and activities for residents to check out.

Hosted by Tourism Red Deer, the annual Tourism Luncheon held June 21st offered a look into what awaits Central Albertans this summer in terms of special events and festivals from CentreFest, Bard on Bower and Westerner Days to Fort Normandeau Days, Rock N’ Red Deer, Canada Day, the annual Open Studios tour put on by the Red Deer Arts Council (which runs this weekend), Ross Street Patio highlights and Sunnybrook Pioneer Days.

“Today is our third annual industry picnic, so we honour the first day of summer and it’s also Indigenous Peoples Day,” explained Liz Taylor, executive director of Tourism Red Deer. “It’s also for the industry to celebrate the launch of summer, and also to learn from and meet the people that are organizing our festivals and events this summer as well.”

Taylor said organizers from 10 of the local events set for the coming months were invited to the event.

“I think we’ve grown from a sleepy summer city – people used to get out of the City during the summer. But now, there are so many reasons to stay. Every weekend throughout the summer there is something exciting going on,” she said.

“I think everyone has an appreciation of working together, and in understanding the quality of what we really have to offer.”

One of those events is Rock N’ Red Deer – a popular car show event – which is slated for the August long weekend.

“Rock N Red Deer comes every three years,” said Gerry Paquette, the group’s treasurer. “We make it a weekend thing for the people coming from out of town, as some come from Manitoba, B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario.

“We have people coming in from the U.S. as well. It’s a wonderful gathering, and it’s all about the culture of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Of course, now we are also going into the 80s and 90s,” he added with a laugh.

“It’s all cars, trucks, hot rods – everything comes in. The big highlight is Friday night with the downtown cruise.”

Proceeds raised during the event support STARS Air Ambulance, he said, adding that to date, more than $130,000 has been donated. “We’ll have a wonderful show, and I hope to see you all there.”

Fort Normandeau offers an up-close look at Central Alberta’s earlier days.

“One of the big events is Fort Normandeau Days, which is happening Aug. 25th and 26th,” said interpreter David P. Anderson.

“It’s a wonderful (event) – you could spend hours there,” he said, adding there are all kinds of activities, fun events and re-enactments that hearken back to the region’s history.

“It’s tons of fun, and we have themed camps going on, too.”

Coming up quick of course is Canada Day, with annual celebrations set to run through the day at Bower Ponds.

The day is packed with performances by local groups, choirs, dancers and an array of entertainers performing on the outdoor stage.

There are also lots of delicious ethnic foods to try out, and of course the day wraps with a dazzling fireworks display, said Delores Coghill, executive director of the Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society.

“We welcome everyone to come down and enjoy the festivities – there is entertainment from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and the fireworks will happen at about 11 p.m. down at the Ponds.”

Bard on Bower also runs at Bower Ponds, with this year’s plays being Romeo and Juliet, Henry V and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Performances, which are presented by Prime Stock Theatre, run from July 11th – 30th.

Of course, Westerner Days is pretty much right around the corner as well, running from July 18th – 22nd.

Folks will enjoy lots of first-rate entertainment, food, rides and special events packed into that week as well.

CentreFest, set for July 27th to 29th, kicks off with a preview July 27th at noon at City Hall Park featuring a look at what international street performers will be onhand at this year’s event as well.

For more about coming events, visit www.visitreddeer.com.

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