JUST ADD KIDS - North American Midway crews begin arriving last weekend to set up rides including the Wacky Worm in preparation for Westerner Days 2013.

JUST ADD KIDS - North American Midway crews begin arriving last weekend to set up rides including the Wacky Worm in preparation for Westerner Days 2013.

Westerner Days begins in Red Deer

  • Jul. 17, 2013 3:19 p.m.

Westerner Days is in full swing.

This morning thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Red Deer to check out the annual Westerner Days parade. The fair grounds are now open and the fair runs until July 21.

Highlights include country-crooner Dean Brody who will hit the Centrium stage on July 20, the 19th St. Market where a number of vendors will be on hand to sell their wares and a family fun zone where kids will enjoy a petting zoo, arts and crafts as well as various games.

Shows will also run throughout each day including Super Dogs Wild Wild Woof where spectators will see dogs do extreme agility, The West Coast Lumberjack show, Doo Doo the Clown, Bandaloni and the Copper Cowboy, among others.

A number of rides for kids, youth and adults will be found on the midway. And the popular pony chuckwagons also take place nightly at 6 p.m. with the finals getting started at 2 p.m. on July 21.

As a not-for-profit organization, Westerner Park relies on the hard work and generosity of its volunteers. And each year, the success of Westerner Days is dependent upon the efforts of many dedicated volunteers working in various capacities throughout the fair, officials say.

This year, Westerner Park has partnered with five local volunteer organizations including United Way Central Alberta, the Canadian Cancer Society, Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada – Central Alberta Chapter and the Canadian Red Cross.

Each organization will provide volunteers for a day in the Saputo Kids’ Corral. In total, the five organizations will provide nearly 100 volunteers during the five days of Westerner Days.

“We are very pleased our organization and other non-profits are stepping up to partner with Westerner Park. We rely on others to support our initiatives, and have this great opportunity to support the initiatives of other community organizations,” says Jennifer Forrest, resource development director, United Way Central Alberta. “When we work together the entire community benefits.”

In return, Westerner Park will provide each organization with a number of advertising benefits including the opportunity to have a booth in the Saputo Kids’ Corral to promote their cause.

Meanwhile, Westerner Days is Central Alberta’s largest summer celebration, and last year, officials say the event drew a record 102,665 people from across western Canada with 46% of those visitors from outside the Red Deer area.

Each year Westerner Days has a major impact on the economy of Red Deer and surrounding area, with the overall effect conservatively estimated to be in excess of $7 million.

Of that total, approximately $5 million is spent by visitors, exhibitors and contractors in Red Deer and area. These expenditures are typically made on accommodations, food services, retail, entertainment and more.

Westerner pride is also evident in the many off-site events that will be hosted by local businesses in support of Westerner Days. This year there are 22 confirmed off-site events including everything from pancake breakfasts and barbecues.

Meanwhile, officials say Westerner Park prides itself on providing family-friendly entertainment at an affordable price. All Westerner Days entertainment and venues are free of charge when gate admission is paid, with the exception of the ticketed Dean Brody concert on Saturday night.

For families looking for even greater value, they can attend Westerner Days on one of two promotional days — McDonald’s Kids Day, presented by BIG 105.5 and 106.7 The Drive, on July 18th and Servus Credit Union Family Day on July 21st.

On McDonald’s Kids Day, kids 12 and under get free gate admission until 6 p.m.

On Servus Credit Union Family Day, a carload of up to six people get gate admission and parking for $25. As well, kids 10 and under can ride all day for $15.