Often it is difficult for the organizing committee of Blue Heron Fair Days to come up with an overall theme.
However, that wasn’t the case for this year, in large part due to local Canadian Bobsleigh and Skeleton national member and Olympian Melissa Lotholz.
Blue Heron Fair Days run from Aug. 10-12 at the Barrhead and District Agricultural Society grounds.
Daily passes for the fair are $12 for adults 17 and older, $6 for youths six to 16 and five and under are free. Three-day passes are also available at $30 and $16 for adults and youths, respectively. Passes may be purchased in advance until Aug. 10 from Sandermans Home Hardware and The Back Forty.
This year’s theme, as showcased in the event’s parade is “Celebrating local athletes.”
“We knew we wanted to honour and celebrate what Melissa has done and then we thought we should expand it to include all our local athletes because after all Barrhead is known as a sporting town,” said fair co-ordinator Brenda Visser, extending an invitation to all Barrhead-area athletes to take part in the parade. Lotholz, a 25-year-old Barrhead native has been on the national bobsleigh team for the last four years as a brakeman. During that time she has won 17 World Cup medals including two World Championship silver medals.
In February, placed seventh along with pilot and fellow Albertan Christine de Bruin at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The fair officially kicks off Friday, Aug. 10, with the beef show at 11 a.m. and the demolition derby at 6 p.m. The beer garden and inflatable village will also open at 6 p.m. and remain open for the duration of the fair.
On Saturday, festivities start at the Ag grounds at 8 a.m. with a horse show while at Freson Bros. the Rotary Club will be hosting a free pancake breakfast.
At 10 a.m. the parade begins with the route taking participants a short distance on 49th Street going to 53rd Avenue before turning onto 51st Street. From there they will head towards 50th Avenue for a block and then turn on to 50th Street where they will complete the loop and return to the Agrena parking lot.
Lotholz, who will be on the Barrhead and District Agricultural Society float, will serve as parade marshal.
The rodeo officially begins at 1 p.m. and after the rodeo, Ride the Vibe Motorcycle will perform.
“Over the years we have been trying to add entertainment and features that appeal to the younger crowd, especially the tweens,” she said.
To further that goal the organizing committee has arranged for Indo Circus, a group of four circus artists, who will entertain audiences performing small shows throughout the weekend in the Bablitz Exhibition Hall as well as a larger show on Sunday.
This is in addition to the traditional petting zoo and pony rides, Visser said.
However, the addition’s Visser is most excited about is Inception VR which will set up it virtual reality gaming equipment on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and an escape room.
Saturday’s festivities conclude with a steak dinner hosted by Barrhead Air Cadet Squadron 526 at 6 p.m. at the exhibition hall and an outdoor movie at 9:30 p.m. on the north end of the Barrhead Elementary School grounds near the tennis courts. The steak dinner is $20 with the proceeds going to the cadets while the movie, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is free but organizers are asking people to bring a donation for the food bank.
Visser said although they are hopeful the construction at Rodeo Drive will be completed before the fair, attendees will still be able to get to all the events with a minimum of extra effort.
“We will have signs directing people how to get around the construction,” she said, suggesting an alternative is to park at the Agrena and take the path starting at the outdoor ice rink.
No matter how people come to the fair Visser is confident they will leave entertained.
“You get a lot of bang for your money,” she said. “For our ‘free entertainment,’ we have spent something in the neighbourhood of $25,000 in an effort to ensure we had something that would appeal to every age.”