This year’s Westerner Days Fair and Exposition has been cancelled.
Westerner Park CEO Mike Olesen announced Monday the annual event will not be happening this year.
“We are heartbroken for our community. We feel for our staff and volunteers, the families who were looking forward to starting their summer with us, and the businesses and vendors that count on the boost in their revenue that the fair provides,” said Olesen.
“After promising our community a modified fair and now having to cancel, we know this will be devastating to our guests and our central Alberta economy.”
In a statement, Westerner Park said its midway provider, North American Midway Entertainment, notified the non-profit agricultural society last Wednesday it would be unable to deliver on their contract and as a result will not be providing Red Deer a midway this year.
In a normal year, Westerner Days is central Alberta’s largest event and has a major impact on the economy in Red Deer and surrounding area. The overall impact is estimated in excess of $7 million, with approximately $5 million of that spent by visitors, exhibitors and contractors in Red Deer and area, said Westerner Park.
“This will be a significant blow to our organization financially, as we do rely on this event annually. We’ll look to measure that (impact) in the coming days,” he said, adding Westerner Park has been able to minimize the impact of this decision.
“It’s certainly challenging for an organization focused on gathering together, giving people reasons to celebrate, and I think that’s what people want.
“The real challenge of this is just the about face of anticipation and expectations that we were less than a month away from this event coming. It hurts – it hurts a lot.”
More layoffs at Westerner Park are not anticipated at this time.
Planning for this year’s Westerner Days has been ongoing since 2020. On June 18, Westerner Park announced it would be hosting a modified fair, but was informed it would not be provided with a midway just five days later.
It was “not realistic” to source another midway provider with just 30 days notice to the start of Westerner Days, Westerner Park said. Westerner Park is in the first year of a five-year contract with North American Midway Entertainment.
Westerner Park is moving “full steam ahead” on the Canadian Finals Rodeo, Olesen said, adding the organization fully anticipates it will be able to hold a modified, if not full, event in November. The same can be said for Agri-Trade.