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Westerner Days makes big return

Organizers happy with crowds after fair returns after two-year hiatus
Fairgoers at Westerner Days in Red Deer are getting to try out a new ride, as well as some old favourites. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

After a two-year hiatus, Westerner Days Fair and Exposition returned in style.

Even the weather co-operated. Sizzling temperatures by day did not turn into the early-evening thunderstorms that have chased fair-goers out of the midway many times over the event’s long history.

Attendance figures were not available on Monday, but organizers were pleased with the turnout for the five-day fair and to the three main stage concerns by Billy Talent, Alberta’s own Corb Lund and Alan Doyle.

“Attendance was excellent,” said Westerner Park marketing and communications manager Tracy Kelly. When compared with the last two fairs, in 2018 and 2019, the numbers were good in terms of people through the gate and profitability.

Attendance steadily increased each day and organizers were happy by Saturday evening. Then, Sunday really took off, driven partly by a good ticket deal that offered $30 admission per vehicle with up to six people. Children 12 and under could also get an unlimited midway rides wristband for $15.

“Sunday was chaos,” said Kelly. “Some people definitely waited until Sunday. It was a good savings for them.”

The musical lineup was also well received. Billy Talent drew about 2,500 concert-goers to the TD Main Stage on Thursday.

Smaller, but just as enthusiastic, crowds took in Lund’s and Doyle’s shows on Friday and Saturday nights. “The people who were there were fans,” she said.

Following the main stage concerts, the Budweiser Beer Gardens was the next destination for many. Kate Stevens and Sweet Barry Wine took the stage on Wednesday, followed by Drew Gregory, The Static Shift, FKB and Stereos over the next four afternoons and evenings.

Westerner Days kicked off with Wednesday’s parade that drew more than 100 entries and drew a big crowd to downtown.

The Servus International Pavilion hosted Pow Wow dancers, Kvitka Ukrainian Dace Group, Pound It Hip Hop, Bhangera Dancing, Country Pride Dance Group, Flyin’ Bob and Central Alberta Film Festival Viewing.

Other popular shows included The Canine Stars and Welcome to the Jungle.

The North American Pony Chuckwagon Championships wrapped on Sunday with Reed Rosencrans, driving under The Pipe Yard tarp, winning the Chariot Champion Buckle. Rosencrans also won the $2,500 Dash for Cash.

Savanah Big Charles, sponsored by The Wooden Shoe, won the Chariot Champion buckle.

Westerner Days organizers will compare notes and go over feedback and then begin planning for next year’s fair, set to run July 19-23.

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