Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff-Westerner Float- - standup- or run with Lanas Westerner Days Fair and Exposition  story--Al Watson pilots the new Westerner Days Fair and Exposition float away from the Hidout in Gasoline Alley after a press conference to launch this years exposition on Tuesday.

Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff-Westerner Float- - standup- or run with Lanas Westerner Days Fair and Exposition story--Al Watson pilots the new Westerner Days Fair and Exposition float away from the Hidout in Gasoline Alley after a press conference to launch this years exposition on Tuesday.

Plenty of entertainment planned for Westerner

The 2014 Westerner Days Fair will feature rising Canadian rockers The Sheepdogs, country sensations Brett Kissel and Tim Hicks, as well as retro favorites Diamond Rio, Harlequin, and Honeymoon Suite.

The 2014 Westerner Days Fair will feature rising Canadian rockers The Sheepdogs, country sensations Brett Kissel and Tim Hicks, as well as retro favorites Diamond Rio, Harlequin, and Honeymoon Suite.

And all of these performances will be FREE with fair gate admission.

Central Albertans wanted more music wrapped into their fair experience and organizers say they’re giving the people what they want.

“Free entertainment is among the top reasons people visit the Westerner Days Fair and Exhibition each year,” said Erin Gobolos, marketing manager for Westerner Park. “This year’s event delivers just that.”

She noted six bands will take the Centrium stage in four nights — which is more than in past years.

Main stage concerts start at 8:30 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 p.m.), and this year’s lineup is:

• On Wednesday, July 16, Juno Award-winning Alberta country singer Kissel (known for the single Started With a Song), as well as Ontario country crooner Hicks (Get By, Hell Raisin’ Good Time) will perform a double-bill concert.

• On Thursday, July 17, Nashville’s Diamond Rio takes the stage to entertain with some of the country group’s Grammy-nominated songs, including I Believe, Beautiful Mess, and Meet in the Middle.

• On Friday, July 18, it’s Winnipeg pop band Harlequin (I Did It For Love, Innocence) and Niagara Falls’ Honeymoon Suite (New Girl Now, Feel It Again).

• And on Saturday, July 19, Saskatoon rockers The Sheepdogs will perform some of the material that made the three-time Juno Award-winning group a Rolling Stone magazine cover band in 2011 (Way It Is, Who?)

There’s more entertainment slated for smaller stages, including local singer Randi Boulton in the Lounge, and Aussie Rules Duelling Pianos and KnowleDJ, who’s been featured at clubs around North America and Europe, in the Molson Canadian Ranch’s stage.

As well, there’s Central Alberta’s own street dancer, Spandy Andy, and assorted acrobats, hypnotists, jugglers, and magicians. Other attractions include a Disco Dog Show and the Hillbilly Celebrity Pig Race, featuring cute porkers named after local media personalities.

Of course, there are nightly pony chuckwagon races, livestock shows, an expanded petting zoo in the Little Red Barn, and a trade show area.

For more information on this year’s attractions, admission rates, various theme days, as well as the Westerner Days Parade on Wednesday, July 16, please visit www.westernerdays.ca.

This year’s fair will be more interactive than in the past, with a spotlight on social media. Billed as “This is My Westerner Days,” organizers are encouraging fair-goers to take pictures of their favourite 2014 fair experiences and post the photos online using the hashtags #westernerdays or #mywesternerdays on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. There will be chances to win daily prizes.

Kent Olson, president of the Westerner Park board, said it’s always challenging to come up with new ways to draw people to an annual event. But he hopes the lure of social media (offered on site through free access to the Shaw Go WiFi network) will appeal to young people who want to stay electronically connected.

Ride-All-Day passes, which include gate admission, unlimited midway rides — but not parking — will be on sale for $33 from June 15 to July 15 at Central Alberta’s Mac’s stores. Organizers say this is a savings of $17.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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