Westerner moves show to ease parking snafu

Organizers of Westerner Days hope by moving the headlining act to the middle of the week they won’t be faced with parking nightmares. In the closing weekend of the 2011 fair, 45,180 people filed through the gates.

Organizers of Westerner Days hope by moving the headlining act to the middle of the week they won’t be faced with parking nightmares.

In the closing weekend of the 2011 fair, 45,180 people filed through the gates.

On Saturday alone, 26,825 people enjoyed the fair but the day featured parking headaches where motorists were backed up on side streets for nearly an hour waiting to get into the gates.

That evening country superstar Johnny Reid performed a sold-out show.

Westerner Park general manager John Harms, said moving the headlining concert, Hedley, to Wednesday, typically one of the lowest attended nights, they hope to put the brakes on the parking chaos.

“We hope that will go along way to eating the parking problem,” he said.

“The other three nights our smaller headliners (will perform) and we don’t anticipate there being as much of a parking issue.”

On non-event days, there are 4,400 parking stalls but during the fair there’s only 2,800 parking spaces because the space is needed to house the equipment, the rides and the fair vehicles.

Adding a park-and-ride option was discussed but Harms said it probably wouldn’t fly because close to half the fair-goers come from outside Red Deer.

“The biggest fear is people from Red Deer aren’t used to taking a park and ride system,” said Harms.

“Our surveys show about 43 per cent of attendees are from outside Red Deer. So they aren’t apt to drive to town and then park and take a park and ride.”

A levy on single occupant vehicles was also considered too. Harms said they want to avoid this measure as much as they can because it is unfair to those who travel to the fair alone.

The overall tally for the 2011 fair was 93,965, up 1,276 from the previous record of 92,689 set in 2010. Westerner Days runs from July 18 to 22. For a full list of the lineup, visit www.westernerdays.ca

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com