It’s that time of year again when local residents flock to Westerner Park for the annual Westerner Days Fair and Exposition, which is marking 125 years this summer.
Things got underway with the popular parade Wednesday morning, and the fair itself runs through Sunday.
“We’re really excited as it is our 125th anniversary, so it’s a big celebration for us but it’s also a big celebration for the community as well,” said Meghan Gustum, Westerner Park’s marketing manager.
“We’ve got a lot of exciting increases to our entertainment throughout the grounds,” she said. “One of the things people will notice is that every night – Wednesday through Saturday – we’ve got fireworks,” she said. “So not just one night this year – we’ve got four nights of fireworks to celebrate our 125th anniversary.
Other highlights including Sunnybrook Farms marking 125 years of agriculture equipment on display.
“The Canadian Armed Forces will have a display onsite as well. We also have eight concerts on the (ENMAX Centrium) mainstage this year that will all be free,” she added. “Each night, two artists will be featured.
“We’ve also got the Heart of the West Trick Riders that will be opening up for the pony chuckwagon races every night,” she said. “Really, there will just be lots of little gems throughout the run of Westerner Days.”
Since 1891, Westerner Park has been a celebration of everything it means to be ‘Central Alberta’, officials say.
“This year’s Westerner Days campaign is about embracing your inner westerner,” said Gustum. “It’s about having the community come together and for that week really enjoying Westerner Days and to celebrate what it is to be a westerner.”
As to those aforementioned performers in the Centrium, they include the Washboard Union and Chad Brownlee performing this evening (Wednesday) followed by DJ Spinderella and Salt n Pepa on July 21st; The Stampeders and Prism on July 22nd and USS and Moist are rounding things out on July 23rd.
All concerts start at 8 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m. As mentioned, they are also free of charge with gate admission.
Another highlight is the Morning of Faith service on Sunday morning.
“Introduced last year, we gave the community one more reason to come together – Morning of Faith. On Sunday, we’ll be offering our non-denominational service before the grounds open to the general public,” said Gustum.
“We will open the grounds at 10 a.m. at no charge to anyone wishing to attend the 11 a.m. service,” she said. “They will then be welcome to stay on the grounds and enjoy the rest of the afternoon at the fair. Morning of Faith guests are encouraged to bring food bank donations with them to the service.”
Other traditional fair favourites include the Red Deer Motors North American Pony Chuckwagon Championshiop nightly at 6:30 p.m. Crowds of over 4,000 gather nightly to take in this exciting event while 56 drivers from western Canada and the United States compete over the five days, all vying for the coveted North American championship buckle and trophy.
Of course, the midway continues to offer fairgoers all kinds of exciting rides, including 18 thrill rides, 13 family rides and nine kiddie rides. Other sites to check out include Bandaloni, the Wobbly Water Balls, the Aussie Rules Dueling Pianos, the Petting Pals Petting Zoo, the Saputo Kids Corral, Safari Jeff, illusionist Murray Hatfield, Doo Doo the Clown, Little Rays and the Canadian Breed Junior Show among others.
The Holiday Inn 19th Street Market runs daily from noon to 10 p.m. in the Prairie Pavilion as well.
When planning a trip to Westerner Days, visitors will also have one more location to park their vehicles. Westerner Park has opened a parking lot just south of the grounds for guests to park.
The overflow parking lot will be open Thursday – Saturday from 3 p.m. to midnight. Guest will be able to park their car for $5 and the hop on the shuttle that will take them directly to the southwest gates.
The shuttle will continuously run throughout the day to bring guests to and from their vehicles.
Visit the web site for more details – westernerdays.ca/information/transportation.
Red Deer Transit Routes 1 and 10 also make regular stops at the bus stop located at the main gate entrance. Service begins at 6:15 a.m. and runs every half hour until 11:35 p.m.
Gate entry is provided for pedestrians at the right of the main gate (north) parking entrance.
Once on-site guests can also take advantage of the ATB People Mover presented by Deermart. From noon – 9 p.m. daily the ATB People Mover will tour around the site picking up people and providing information on all the entertainment.
For families looking for even greater value, they can attend Westerner Days on their promotional days: McDonald’s Kids Day, presented by BIG 105.5 and 106.7 The Drive, on July 21st and Servus Credit Union Family Day on July 24th.
On July 21st, McDonald’s Kids Day, kids 12 and under receive free gate admission until 6 p.m. On July 24th, Servus Credit Union Family Day, a carload of up to six people receive gate admission and parking for $29.
As well, kids 10 and under can ride all day for $12.
There is also one day remaining to save on your Ride All Day (RAD) and Multi Day, MEGA Pass. RAD and MEGA passes are sold exclusively at participating Mac’s and Central Alberta Co-op locations as well as Bower Place and Parkland Mall, until July 19th. RAD and MEGA passes are proudly presented by BIG 105 and 106.7 The Drive.
The three day MEGA pass is the best way enjoy several days at the fair, organizers say. This multi-day pass is $25, with up to $17 in savings. It does not include rides or parking. Limited passes are available.
Westerner Days RAD passes is also available for purchase. The tickets are $34 and include gate admission and unlimited midway rides for any one day of the fair. This is a savings of up to $19. Does not include parking.
Admission prices for the fair run as follows – seniors (65 +) $6; adults (18+) $14; youth (13-17) $11; children (6-12) $6 and children (five and under) get in for free.
Parking is $7.
For complete details, check out westernerdays.ca.