Glen Tisdale and Tom Chapman

Glen Tisdale and Tom Chapman

Westerner Days organizers aiming for 100,000

Exotic animals, skydivers, trapeze artists, the Vancouver band Hedley, and a host of other entertainers are onboard to make this summer’s Westerner Days the best yet, say organizers.

Exotic animals, skydivers, trapeze artists, the Vancouver band Hedley, and a host of other entertainers are onboard to make this summer’s Westerner Days the best yet, say organizers.

“I’d certainly love to break the 100,000 (people) mark this year,” said Michael Donlevy, president and board chair of the Westerner Days fair that starts with a July 18 parade and goes to July 22.

While organizers had hoped to draw that large a crowd at last summer’s fair, thunder and lightning kept crowds away one day.

“But the following day, we broke the all-time attendance record,” said Donlevy, who noted the 2011 tally ended up falling only 6,000 people short of the six-digit goal.

“We didn’t do it last year, but we sure could this year,” added Donlevy, who estimated that Central Alberta’s largest summer attraction will add $7.3 million to the local economy.

On Monday, Westerner Days organizers revealed the 2012 entertainment lineup.

It includes the previously announced Centrium headliners: Hedley (tickets are $45 from Ticketmaster and don’t include fair admission), as well as Sawyer Brown, Nazareth and Terri Clark, who will perform free with fair passes.

As well, the Canadian Forces parachuting team, the Sky Hawks, will dive into the open area in the middle of the chuckwagon races.

The Extreme Wildlife Show will be going on in the amphitheatre, featuring a lion, tiger, wolves, a zebra, camels, bison and a mini-horse.

And a Cirque du Soleil-style troup of trapese artists, called Firefly Theatre will be presenting the Under the Sea show in Adventure Alley.

This new venue in the Parkland Pavilion will also have The Living World with Safari Jeff reptile and amphibian show, and amazing sand sculptor Dale Murdock.

Midway Boulevard will feature an assortment of performers, including the Movie Stunt Adventure, Red Deer’s own Spandy Andy and Wobbly Waterballs, which are billed as “letting you walk on water.”

The Family Fun Zone and Kids Korral will feature Knight Haven medieval role-playing, various singing/ playing entertainers and Que Bola Magic.

Those of drinking age can enjoy the local performers St. James Gate and Tera Lee, as well as Codie Prevost and the Aussi Rules Duelling Pianos on the Molson Canadian Ranch Stage.

There will also be livestock shows, a petting zoo, trade show, and chuckwagon races. A 10:45 p.m. fireworks show will also create some excitement on Friday, July 20 (weather permitting).

Marketing manager Erin Gobolos said some ethnic food choices, including Thai and Mexican, will be among this summer’s concessions, while two new rides will be among the 42 rides on the midway. The new ones are the Cuckoo Haus thrill ride and the Chopper Charlie Kids Ride.

This year’s theme is “Break Away from the Every Day,” so Gobolos hopes families will leave their humdrum schedules to participate in the “outside the box entertainment” at Westerner Days.

Money saving one-day ride passes will be sold at Macs stores from June 15 to July 17 for $30. They include all rides and gate admission.

For more information, please go to www.westernerdays.ca.

lmichelin@reeddeeradvocate.com