The dark clouds lingering in the distance, along with a severe thunderstorm watch, didn’t stop people from converging on Westerner Park Wednesday.
The opening day of Westerner Days Fair and Exposition kicked off without a hitch, despite weather that threatened to put a damper on the fun.
Mother Nature’s wrath stayed away long enough for large crowds to flock to the fair. There was also a window of opportunity for the Canadian Forces Parachuting Team, the SkyHawks, to jump into the grounds of the North American Pony Chuckwagon Championships.
“It was definitely touch and go there for a while,” admitted Westerner Park marketing manager Erin Gobolos.
The exposition and fair opened to the public at noon and Faron and Teri Halliday’s family did not want to miss the first day of rides, food and entertainment.
Their children Jaala, 12, and Leisha Vandenborre, 10, had just finished getting off of the Fire Ball — one of the 41 rides provided by North American Midway Entertainment.
“That was awesome,” Leisha said. “I like going upside down.”
The family, from Red Deer, plans on attending Westerner Days every year. They keep coming back to see the smiles on their children’s faces, Teri said.
“It is a great family thing to do.”
Faron and Teri say they budget for Westerner Days by purchasing wrist bands for their children at $35, instead of counting tickets. The Vertigo ride takes six tickets, of which are $1 each.
“It’s a good cost for the wrist bands and we try and not over spend,” Faron said.
Two new rides featured on the midway are Cuckoo House and Chopper Charlie.
Charmaine Varcoe’s four-year-old daughter, Mykendra Melzer, had just exited the Cuckoo House.
“This is a lot of fun and there are good kid rides,” Varcoe, from Camrose, said.
But it wasn’t just the rides and smell of mini-donuts, cotton candy and deep-fried treats that brought people out to the midway.
Bandaloni, the one-man band and Copper Cowboy entertained passersby. Midway entertainers, including Red Deer’s own Spandy Andy, have daily show times.
Randy Tribiger and Richard Jaburek, medieval specialists from Wetaskiwin, were also roaming the midway.
The sirs of KnightHaven are available to discuss the art of medieval warfare, which uses specially designed foam weapons.
•There are 17 offsite events, including pancake breakfasts, barbecues, a chili cookoff and show and shine.
• Gate admission: Adults are $10, youth (13-17) are $8, children (6-12) are $4 and children under five are free. Seniors get in for $5. Parking at Westerner Park is $6.
•Sawyer Brown will be performing today at 8:30 p.m. Doors for the show open at 7:30 p.m. It is free with gate admission.
Visit www.westernerdays.ca/concerts for a list of show times and performances.
•Thursday is McDonald’s Kids Days, where children 12 and under get gate admission for free until 6 p.m. Ride coupons are reduced by $1 until 7 p.m.
•Sunday is Service Credit Union Family Day, where a carload of up to six people get gate admission and parking for $20.
•The Northern Lights Fireworks show will brighten the night sky on Friday evening.
Westerner Days finishes up on Sunday at 10:30 p.m.
For detailed information, including times and locations, visit www.westernerdays.ca.