Hundreds filled the streets of downtown Red Deer as the Westerner Days Fair and Exposition started off with a bang.
Day one of the five-day celebration kicked off with a parade full of live music, marching bands, floats and even a sword fight.
Red Deer’s Heather Ruryk brought her two daughters, six-year-old Alaina and two-year-old Maggie, to the morning’s parade.
“My favourite part was the marching bands. There were three of them, which was great. The kids’ favourite part was giving out high fives,” Ruryk said.
“We all really enjoyed the parade. It was a good length, so if someone was coming late they could still see it, which is good.”
Nicole Connolly and her two children, Chloe, 6, and Evan, 8, made the trip from Edson to take in the parade.
“We love the Westerner parade because in Edson we don’t get too many parades,” she said.
The family tries to come out to the parade every year, although they usually don’t head over to the fairgrounds, Connolly said.
Red Deer’s Gary McWatters went to the parade with his two grandchildren. He has gone to Westerner Days with them for the past three years, he said.
“We had a ton of fun here at the parade this year. Another grandson of mine was playing guitar on one of the floats, so that was nice,” he said.
The parade is always enjoyable, but the most exciting part of the week for them will be over at the fairgrounds, he said.
“I always like going to the music in the evening. These guys like the rides the most,” McWatters said.
Shortly after the parade, people made their way to the fairgrounds at Westerner Park to play some games, get some unique foods at the Grub Hub, such as dodgeball-sized ice cream cones, and to take a spin on some of the midway rides.
Blackfalds’ Coral Jarvis was watching her husband Tyler Jarvis and their two-year-old son Kayne on a ride with bumblebee carts.
“We came last year, but Kayne was too young to ride, so this is his first experience with them … I was a little worried at first, but he’s obviously loving it, so we’ll be doing more,” Carol Jarvis said.
Being able to experience the rides with their son is something both Carol and Tyler Jarvis are looking most forward to through the rest of Westerner Days.
Westerner Days will continue until Sunday night, with the fairgrounds opening at noon every day.