Red Deer’s annual Westerner Days Fair and Exposition brings plenty of entertainment and excitement to the city.
It also provides a sizable injection of cash, according to a study conducted last year by Enigma Research Corp.
Enigma, which was commissioned by the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions to assess the impact of Red Deer’s summer celebration, concluded that the five-day event at Westerner Park will have a gross economic impact of more than $7.3 million this year.
Approximately $5 million will be spent by non-local attendees, the study found, including $3 million on attractions and at concessions at the fair grounds. Enigma estimated that approximately $1.5 million more will be spent off-site, with about $660,000 for shopping, $300,000 for automotive expenses, $255,000 for accommodations and more than $200,000 on dining.
Westerner Park president Wendy Barnes said in a news release that operational spending by Westerner Park and other companies on site will total nearly $500,000 this year, including wages and equipment rentals.
Erin Gobolos, Westerner Parks marketing and sponsorship manager, said on Monday that Enigma conducted 800 on-site interviews during last year’s Westerner Days, and also looked at accounting records and gate receipts. Its findings were provided to Westerner Park last fall, and released to the media on Sunday.
“We always thought that we had a great event and there was some benefit to the city and surrounding area, but we actually were surprised by how good it was,” said Gobolos.
One of the things that struck her, she said, was a determination that 43 per cent of the more than 90,000 people who attended last summer’s fair came from outside the Red Deer area.
“I really believe that’s because we are a really good alternative to going to Edmonton or Calgary.”
Gobolos said Westerner Park wants to publicize the benefits of Westerner Days to Red Deer and the local economy, and plans to release more data from the study in the future.
“They collected information in the survey on everything from where people are coming from, the demographic makeup of these people, what things they’re going to be looking at purchasing over the next couple of years, what entertainment they’re looking at.”