A look back at the Red Deer’s fair of 1913

Westerner Exposition starts today (July 17) with the traditional grand parade.

There will be many entries in that parade celebrating the fact that this year is also the City of Red Deer’s centennial of incorporation. It is therefore very interesting to reflect back 100 years to the Red Deer Fair of 1913.

Many people felt that the Fair of 1912 had literally been the ‘best fair ever.’

There had been a massive upgrade of the fairgrounds and facilities. Three acres of land had been added on the west side of Alexandra Park (the name for the fairgrounds at the time). This provided space for new stables and a midway.

A large grandstand was constructed. Two large livestock barns were also erected as well as a large new exhibits building. Thousands of dollars were also spent on repairs to the existing buildings and on general improvements to the site.

The fair itself was a roaring success. Attendance soared to more than 5,000, almost twice the population of Red Deer at the time.

A record 730 entries competed for the prize money in the livestock shows and special exhibits. The grandstand was packed during the long parade of prize-winning cattle and horses and for the various entertainments.

The expanded midway was a roaring success.

The Red Deer Agricultural Society was determined to make the 1913 Fair as good, or even better, than the one staged in 1912. However, as the year progressed, it was obvious that the local economy was rapidly slipping into recession.

As money got tighter, City council cut the Agricultural Society’s grant by more than one-third. The capital improvements grant was cut to a mere $500.

Consequently, the 1913 phase of the fairgrounds upgrades were largely cancelled.

The Agricultural Society still made all the improvements it felt it could afford. The old grandstand was relocated to the new stock-judging ring. The old exhibits building, which had been constructed in 1904, was moved to the west gate. The racetrack was widened to the standard 60 ft. (18.3m). Three tents were rented from the Calgary Exhibition for additional livestock accommodations.

The Red Deer Horticultural Society, which had been holding an annual flower and vegetable show since 1911, was invited to hold its 1913 show in conjunction with the fair.

The Western Vaudeville Association was hired to provide the grandstand entertainments. Contracts were also signed with the Rex Comedy Circus and the Modelsky Troupe’s Imperial Russian Dancers.

Despite the recession, the Fair’s organizers were rewarded with another blockbuster exhibition.

Attendance soared to nearly 8,000, almost three times the total population of the City. Livestock exhibitors showed up from all across Canada.

The total number of entries in the shows and competitions were double the number registered in 1912.

An enthusiastic Provincial Superintendent of Fairs, C.E. Lewis, declared that the 1913 Red Deer Fair was bettered only by the exhibitions in Alberta’s two largest cities, Calgary and Edmonton.

There were some glitches. Several local exhibitors complained about unfair competition from “outside professionals.” One horse race had to be cancelled when one of the jockeys went missing. Nevertheless, no one cared about these problems. Red Deer had once again been able to stage ‘The Best Fair Ever’.

Just Posted

Jayda Monilaws raises over $7,000 of cupcakes for Central Alberta Humane Society

This is the most the 10-year-old Red Deerian has raised so far

PHOTOS: Alberta male team takes silver in Winter Games relay speed skating

Alberta was close behind Quebec in the team relay speed skating finals

WATCH: Pet therapy brings calmness to Winter Games athletes

Canada Winter Games in Red Deer continue on until March 2nd

Jayda Monilaws is selling cupcakes again for Central Alberta Humane Society

The 10-year-old Red Deerian is selling cupcakes today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Alberta was crowned champions in Wheelchair Basketball at Canada Winter Games

Ontario won silver while Quebec took home the bronze medal

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Child advocacy centre raising funds through Dream Home Lottery

The child advocacy centre in Red Deer uses its resources to help kids all over Central Alberta

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Sylvan Lake’s Megan Cressey misses Freestyle Skiing Big Air podium

Alberta’s Jake Sandstorm captured silver in the men Freestyle Skiing Big Air contest

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read