Fair takes shows to kids

Since some kids are too sick to go to the fair, the fair will come to them.

Since some kids are too sick to go to the fair, the fair will come to them.

For the first time, entertainers from the Westerner Days Fair and Exhibition will perform for ailing children at Red Deer hospital and the Ronald McDonald House in Red Deer.

Olymel is sponsoring a new program called Share the Fair that will allow various singers or acrobats to cheer up kids who aren’t well enough to attend Westerner Days, which runs from July 16-20 at Westerner Park.

“Some of the same shows will be recreated for those kids,” said Kent Olson, president of the Westerner Park Board.

Olson believes this is a great away to allow families who are going though difficulties to share in the fair experience and create some happy memories.

“It’ll be a real treat to bring the fair to the House,” agreed Linda Caponpon, family, recreation and volunteer co-ordinator for Ronald McDonald House of Central Alberta. The entertaining diversion planned for Thursday, July 17, will help to “normalize” life for parents and children in need of some positive shared experiences, she added.

Olymel’s plant manager Rob Ackerblade, said his company is pleased to give back to the community and support such a worthwhile program.

It is part of a larger effort to allow more Central Alberta families to attend Westerner Days. Olson said some 11,500 people in the area were found to be living below the poverty line — even though Central Alberta is one of the country’s more affluent regions. “It’s hard to believe that many people are in need,” he said.

In 2013, the We All Play program was started to offer free Westerner Days passes to under-privileged families. It’s continuing and growing this year.

Repeat sponsor Conoco Phillips Canada, in partnership with Family Services of Central Alberta, will be offering 125 family passes to parents and children who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend the 2014 fair.

As well, new sponsor, Stantec, along with Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre, will be giving 70 families of disabled children a chance to take a fun break together at Westerner Days.

“Aspire is so grateful for this tremendous support,” said Michelle Sluchinski, the group’s executive-director, who noted many parents have had to reduce their work hours to take care of their children’s needs and to get them to doctors’ appointments. “Your generosity means a tremendous amount to families. . . they will look forward to going to the fair, like any family would.”

Stantec’s senior vice-president Russ Vlad said the We All Play program is a perfect fit with his company’s community-minded focus.

“We are thrilled to reward the families associated with Aspire, who work so hard to help their children realize their full potential.”

Erin Gobolos, marketing manager for Westerner Park, said the goal is to keep connecting sponsors with their charities of choice, so more and more Central Albertans can enjoy the fair.


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