Westerner experience leaves citizens wanting

  • Aug. 24, 2010 3:19 p.m.

Another round of Westerner Days has come and gone, and what’s the feeling about this year’s slate of events?

It seemed like a touch of déjà vu set in as one strolled down the midways and throughout the grounds. Not that the crowds seemed to mind a sense of ‘been there, done that’, particularly on those hot, summery irresistible days when being at the fair – or any fair for that matter – seemed the natural thing to do.

But there was little that jumped out. Yes, there were new features but one couldn’t perhaps overcome that feeling that it could be better; more innovative and more exciting.

Still, there were improvements over last year. Mainstage acts were stepped up a notch from past years and fans turned out in droves for rockers like Trooper, Marianas Trench and singer/songwriter Johnny Reid.

There were also promising new highlights such as the Artistic Expression venue which featured both performing and visual arts. It offered a bit of reprieve from the heat and activity of outside, and was an interesting mix of talents. There was also a stage set up for local artists to perform.

But perhaps when it comes to staging these kinds of enormous events, keeping a semblance of familiarity is the name of the game. Maybe it actually works in an organization’s favour. As the battered old cliché says, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Why change much of anything if thousands of people will check out the event anyways?

If there was a sense of disappointment in the fair, it wasn’t helped by the lackluster parade which kicked things off. This is where some big time changes are needed.

Remember the old days when heading to the annual City parade was a highlight? There was candy tossed out by loads of colourful characters, marching band after marching band, eye-catching floats galore and a multitude of other highlights to brighten the experience.

Times have changed. This year’s Westerner parade proved less than stellar on many fronts.

Unlike the parades of years past, this one seemed more like a car show with a host of politicians in sparsely decorated vehicles, local businesses in equally bland floats (or something like that) and some were even strolling along, sign in hand, trying to showcase their cause, organization or business. Did we miss something? Was it a parade of a stream of folks trying to build awareness for the causes, and not very creatively at that?

Some of the vehicles were barely decorated and if they were, only a few pom-poms were thrown on for good measure.

And where were all the marching bands? Only the Red Deer Royals band participated this year. They were of course terrific, but more music would have been welcome. Many people, young and old come out to see a colourful, vibrant parade that is packed with floats and music.

Red Deer’s parade was absolutely lacking in those areas.

Not to say it always has been. Years ago, the City’s parade was definitely something to look forward to. Spectators came out to see a large number of floats, amusements and many bands.

It seems the mandate for who can sign up is becoming increasingly broad.

What’s allowed and what isn’t allowed needs a second look.

Ultimately, returning to the days of a fun, colourful, energetic and music-driven parade would brighten not just summer holidays, but the Westerner experience itself.

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