The thrill of going on terrifying midway rides at Red Deer’s Westerner Days fair was something Alena Mora missed over the last couple of pandemic years.
Now that the fair is on again, Mora really looked forward to experiencing the Haunted House and the Tornado on Thursday afternoon.
“I can finally feel the dread of going on rides again,” the 15-year-old said, with a smile.
Many Red Deer families hit the midway’s rides and food booths under the bright midday sun with a similar sense of relief. They expressed gratitude that life — including Central Alberta’s summer tradition of Westerner Days — was getting back to normal.
“I’m just happy to get out and have things to do, and get a chance to see people again,” said local dad David Katerynych, who brought his three young children to the fair.
“We’re going to have a lot of fun!” predicted Bri Melanson, of Olds.
This year there are 34 midway rides in total — which is six fewer than usual. But Westerner Park’s marketing manager Tracy Kelly said fair-goers can try out a new thrill ride called the Rock Star. It elevates riders 55 feet above the midway on a flying platform that rotates 360 degrees, giving riders a free-fall experience, as well as a LED light show.
Central Alberta dad Ryan Poholko lined up for the Tornado on a more spacious midway. Fair organizers have asked carnival employees to park behind the pavilions instead of on the midway to provide more room for fair-goers, said Kelly.
Poholko was anticipating digging into some delectable fair food at the Grub Hub, “but I’m going on spinny things first. Food after spinny things is OK, but food before spinney things is bad,” he reasoned.
Going on the Zipper left Vera Brettelle, of Rocky Mountain House, a bit queasy, but she was still excited to be back at the fair. Her brother Everist Brettelle said he was most looking forward to the food stands — especially the fried chicken.
The Grub Hub is carrying an array of sticky, greasy and flavourful fair foods — including some new and unusual flavours, including dill pickle cotton candy and mac and cheese soft ice cream.
This year, Westerner Park’s own caterer is also whipping up some beef brisket and pulled pork sandwiches. They are being sold out of the Chalet, along with some side orders for those wanting a hearty lunch or dinner, said Kelly.
Although ticketed concerts are on at the Centrium, among the entertainment that’s free with fair admission is live music at the Budweiser Beer Garden, near the chuckwagon track. Amid lit up trees, the outdoor stage features live music twice a day. The licensed area is accessible to all ages.
“We are happy to invite the community back to Westerner Days again, and hope they enjoy this opportunity to reconnect,” said Kelly.