Westerner worth millions to local economy

Westerner Days Fair and Exposition is expected to inject more than $7 million in Central Alberta’s economy over five days.

Westerner Days Fair and Exposition is expected to inject more than $7 million in Central Alberta’s economy over five days.

Last year the family-fun event set a new cumulative record of 102,265 attendees, up 9.25 per cent from 2011. And 46 per cent were visitors from outside of Red Deer.

The estimated economic impact was around $7.3 million.

Jonathan Seib, Red Deer Chamber of Commerce policy co-ordinator, said the large influx of visitors are not just entering the gates to Westerner Park.

Seib said they are filling the local restaurants, booking hotel rooms and spending money in downtown businesses and at the malls.

“It’s just a major economic driver that means a whole lot for these retailers,” said Sieb. “When we have things like the parade brings a huge influx to our downtown businesses. It means a lot to our downtown.”

Last week, the spotlight was on the improvements to Little Gaetz and the downtown streets were revealed with a grand opening. Sieb said there will be thousands of people downtown watching the parade on Wednesday who will get a chance to see the improvements. About 100 volunteers lend a hand every year for the fair and exposition.

“It moves us forward in our long term viability for tourism and a place to locate for both residents and businesses,” said Sieb. “It continues to spread the word about Red Deer.”

Events happening outside of Red Deer this week including the World Plowing Championships in Olds are expected to draw visitors to Westerner Days.

Gaye Langford, president of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, said when farmers come into town they like to go shopping.

“The weather makes a big difference,” said Langford. “But it looks like the forecast will be gorgeous. All you need to do is try to get into a restaurant (to see the impacts). Everywhere is busy.”

The five-day annual festival runs Wednesday to Sunday. The parade kicks off the five days of fun starting on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. Visit www.westernerdays.ca for parade route and full list of events.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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