Top Ten Fairs and Exhibitions
Here are our picks for our Top Ten List! When it came to our judging criteria,
we considered: family-friendliness; the variety of events and activities;
whether it’s a multi-day show; free events; big-ticket and musical entertainment;
and, of course, the role played by livestock.
Do you have a particular favourite fair or exhibition? Please log onto our blog at
www.cowboycountrymagazine.com and tell us why!
1. Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede (IPE), Armstrong, B.C.
Aug. 31 – Sept. 4
In 1909, if you entered your four best pigs in the Armstrong Fall Exhibition you stood to win $7.50 for first place. Today, those porkers will net you 10 bucks. Blame tradition and exhibitor pride. Nobody’s in it for the money.
The IPE’s been doling out down-home fun for more than 110 years. It’s one of the few surviving authentic agricultural fairs across Canada, with a long history of local dedication.
When times were tough and attendance dwindled, organizers refused to let their fair die. It became “The Little Fair That Could”. Today the IPE is one of the largest agricultural fairs in Canada.
There’s so much to do and see! Enjoy rooster-crowing contests, old-time threshing and a miniature horse show. 4-H youth proudly parade their lambs, hogs and dairy cows for the judges in the barns. Take in lumberjack log-rolling and woodsplitting contests. Master gardeners reveal their expertise with flowers and vegetables. Or you can simply admire the intricate patterns of a crocheted tablecloth on display.
Part of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association’s Wrangler Canadian Tour, the IPE rodeo runs for five consecutive nights in the arena — right next to the lights and sounds of the midway.
This is night rodeo action you don’t dare miss!
2. Diamond Jubilee! Ponoka Stampede, Ponoka, Alta.
June 27 – July 3
One of Canada’s largest professional rodeos, the mighty Ponoka Stampede draws more than 70,000 rodeo fans to town — instantly making Ponoka the third largest city in Alberta for the seven days of the Stampede.
Of course, 2011 marks a milestone for Ponoka —
the Diamond Jubilee of this event with a celebration of 75 years of rodeo action. Be sure to dress up in your wild, wild retrowestern duds, because they’re turning back the clock to present the Wild West Show of 1936!
Singing stars such as Gord Bamford and Dwight Yoakam have got the nod to lead the cast of entertainers, while many other special events will mark this occasion.
Enjoy seven days of pony chuck and pony chariot racing, pro chuckwagon racing, their western art show and shopping, midway entertainment — including those mini-donuts, plenty of dancing, their famous mile-long parade and of course, the pro rodeo.
Ponoka Stampede’s Diamond Jubilee might be the highlight of your year!
3. Calgary Stampede, Calgary, Alta.
July 8 – 17
It’s no wonder it’s called “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” There’s no end to the entertainment at the Calgary Stampede!
World-class is the only way to describe it — from their invitational rodeo to pro chuckwagon racing, glittering grandstand shows, major stars in concert, marching bands, free shows that range from music to magic, fine western art, to big horse hitches and every sport you can imaginably do on horseback.
One of the many aspects of the Calgary Stampede that sets it apart is the Indian Village. It features authentic teepees, dance competitions and some of the most fascinating people — all set along the banks of the Bow River.
4. 85th Annual Williams Lake Stampede, Williams Lake, B.C.
June 30 – July 3
A completely unique rodeo set in the heart of the Cariboo, this is one of the few rodeos left where First Nations members ride great distances to attend and race in their famous Mountain Race.
On top of their pro rodeo, which attracts the top cowboys, Williams Lake also hosts a ranch rodeo, which lures working cowboys from area ranches to compete for bragging rights.
Other events include pony chuckwagon racing and, of course, the high-speed performance of the rodeo’s own drill team. Add dancing, parades, that incredible mountain race and legendary Cariboo hospitality —and this event is a must-see!
5. Heritage Ranch Rodeo/Farmfair/CFR, Edmonton, Alta.
Nov. 4 – 13
For 10 days, Alberta’s capital city welcomes all westerners as well as all folks who love all things cowboy!
Farmfair International showcases outstanding cattle and welcomes top cattle breeders and buyers from around the globe. Take in a wide array of equine clinics and seminars. Farmfair also presents the Heritage Ranch Rodeo, where cowboys from
working ranches compete in a ranch rodeo to showcase their skills. Go on a western shopping spree at Dodge City; products range from fencing to fine western fashions.
Northlands also presents the Canadian Finals Rodeo (Nov.9-13) where pro cowboys compete for the mother of all titles — Canadian Champion.
6 Festival Western de St. Tite Saint-Tite, Que.
Sept. 9 – 18, 2011
If you’ve forgotten how to stand and cheer, this festival will absolutely cure what ails you!
Extremely popular with rodeo competitors and spectators alike, Festival Western de St. Tite is a wild world unto itself — and the biggest Western event in all of Eastern North America.
St. Tite attracts a rodeo crowd whose enthusiasm reaches a fever pitch. Kick up your heels at a country dance competition. Enjoy rodeo events that go off the scale (wanna rescue a cowboy? You can here!), gymkhana, shopping and sundry opportunities to socialize. Many familiar stock contractors, pick up men and, of course, cowboys, all ride East to this
7. Pendleton Round-Up, Pendleton, Ore.
Sept. 14 – 17
The Pendleton Round-Up is a rodeo that’s so famous it even has its own custom blanket!
As an officially designated Oregon Heritage Tradition, Pendleton Round-Up counts itself among the 10 largest rodeos on the planet. The over-the-top extravaganza, which began in 1910, recently celebrated its centennial and, this year, its
football field-sized arena (which requires six pick up men … imagine!) will once again welcome the finest cowboys to ever straddle a bucking chute.
Concerts, parades, fun shopping and the nightly Happy Canyon Wild West-styled show showcase the area’s history and First Nations. A must-see at Pendleton is the Round-Up Hall of Fame.
8. 125th Annual Saskatoon Exhibition, Saskatoon, Sask.
Aug. 9 – 14
With more than a quarter million visitors clicking through the turnstiles, this is a big, big show. But summer 2011 will be HUGE for the Saskatoon Ex —
125 years and counting!
Attractions include the Summer Faire, a showcase of
fine arts, video and photography (even a new category of cell phone movies!), crafts, four major concert venues ranging from rock to pure country
(headliners here have ranged from Three Days Grace to Colin James), the wild action of CPCA chuckwagon racing, stock dog competitions, a terrific midway,
a Youth Talent competition, a massive pancake breakfast for everyone plus a wealth of free
attractions to engage and amuse the entire family.
9. Manitoba Stampede and Exhibition, Morris, Man.
July 21 – 24
Morris hosts Manitoba’s only professional rodeo on the CPRA circuit — and it’s well worth the trip for entrants and spectators
alike. But hold onto your hat, there’s a lot more to this show!
There’s a whole Agricultural Fair section to the Stampede which includes a full exhibition of dairy cattle, heavy horse and saddle horse shows, the wildly exciting Hide race, a talent competition, cabarets, shopping, a petting zoo — and even a
pig scramble for the young ’uns! Also check out the blistering fast thoroughbred chariot racing, pony chariot and feel the thunder of chuckwagon racing. The Morris Stampede has it all, plus Manitoba’s legendary hospitality.
10 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Las Vegas, Nev.
Dec. 1 – 10
Las Vegas, the glittery gulch of Nevada, transforms into a
cowboy mecca for 10 days as rodeo competitors ride their
hearts out to claim the World Championship buckles.
Be sure to arrive early; outside the Thomas & Mack you’ll find pre-rodeo entertainment galore. Then head inside to witness the best rodeo competitors compete in one of the fastest-paced rodeos you’ll ever see.
While the Finals is central to rodeo fans, the sparkling array
of casinos, big-name concerts, Cowboy Christmas shopping
and the most astonishing people-watching on the Strip
spins into a show all its own.
Photos by Ben Erickson; L. Saunders; Travel Alberta; Liz Twan; Northlands; Festival estern de St. Tite; Martin Stoll; Saskatoon Exhibition; Manitoba Stampede/Rick Hiebert; Las Vegas News Bureau
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