From musicians to lumberjacks, magicians to exotic animals, a wild assortment of attractions are booked for this summer’s Westerner Days Fair and Exposition.
“We’re going to deliver a celebration experience . . . and it’ll be quite a spectacle,” predicted John Harms, the Westerner Park’s CEO and general manager.
One of Canada’s brightest country stars, singer Dean Brody, will perform on the Centrium stage on July 20. Funky hip hop group Down with Webster will rap for a young crowd on Friday, July 19, while comedian Brent Butt goes for chuckles on Wednesday, July 17. And best-selling 1980s pop group Glass Tiger will play its hits on Thursday, July 18.
(Only Brody’s concert requires a $20 ticket, on top of fair admission and parking. The rest are free with admission.)
Central Alberta’s largest summer celebration runs July 17-21 on the Westerner Park grounds, and organizers are planning for a higher attendance than ever.
For the first time in Westerner Days’ history, 125 underprivileged regional families will be able to attend the fair, thanks to sponsor Conoco Phillips, who will be working with the Central Alberta Family Services Bureau to help selected parents and kids who otherwise would not be able to attend. Eligible families must live between Rocky, Ponoka, Bowden and Delburne.
“It’s amazing that Conoco Phillips has launched this (We All Play initiative) to try to do something for families that are less fortunate,” said Kent Olson, board president.
“This will help create memories and provide some sunshine for what otherwise might be a very cloudy day” for some kids, predicted Valdene Callin, of Family Services of Central Alberta.
Last year, 102,665 people came to Westerner Days. Of those, 42 per cent were from outside the Red Deer area. This summer’s economic spin-off from the fair is estimated to be $7.3 million. Of that, some $5 million is expected to be spent by visitors and exhibitors primarily on food and hotel services, retail and vehicle-related expenses.
“For local businesses this is a major economic driver,” said Olson.
The celebrations kick off with pancake breakfasts, chili-cook-offs and show and shines around the city, as well as the Westerner Days parade on July 17 (the deadline for parade entries is June 17). This year’s official fair float will celebrate the city’s centennial, said Olson.
The fairgrounds will be crawling with other entertainers, including local country singer Jaydee Bixby, The Boom Chucka Boys, and Aussie Rules Duelling Pianos on the adults-only Canadian Ranch stage, as well as kids’ performers Doo Doo the Clown, and Parents’ Choice Award Winner Music With Brian on the Family Stage.
Other Westerner Days attractions will include The West Coast Lumberjacks Show and Wobbly Waterballs on Midway Boulevard, along with Bonadolini, the one-man band, The Copper Cowboy statue come to life, magician Kyle Key, and My Antique Portrait.
On the Midway Stage, a variety of up-and-coming local country artists will perform, as well as hypnotist Dale K and multicultural performers. The Bowmanville Zoo’s animal acrobats will show their stuff in the Amphitheatre, while Safari Jeff will launch his Animology Tour in Adventure Alley, along with the President’s Choice Superdogs’ Wild, Wild Woof show.
A Guinness World Record water balloon competition will take place, as well as Friday night fireworks (weather permitting), a tractor pull, Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo in the Sunny Family Fun Zone.
There will be a midway with 19 rides and assorted food booths, as well as livestock shows involving cattle, horse, goats, donkeys and bunnies, about 100 trade show booths, a casino, and nightly pony chuckwagon races.
Once again, an out-of-town family will be “arrested” by police on July 16 and invited as guests to the fair.
Gate admission is $11 ($6 for seniors age 65 and up/$9 for youths age 13 to 17/$5 for children age 6 to 12) Kids five and under are free). on-site parking is $6.
Special rates apply on July 18 when kids 12 and under get free fair admission until 6 p.m. And on Sunday, July 21, when admission and parking is $25 for a carload of up to six people. Also, kids age 10 and under can ride all day for $15.
Otherwise, unlimited ride tickets are $37 on site (does not include admission or parking charges).
Advanced ride-all-day passes can be purchased for $32 at participating Mac’s locations from June 14 to July 16.
More information is available at westernerdays. ca.