By Tim Kalinowski
As rural Saskatchewan changes and grows over time new industries and new peoples arrive on the prairie to continue the pioneering ways of years gone by, bringing with them new traditions, new cultural contexts and new energy and enthusiasm to grow the province now and into the future.
This year’s Frontier Days extravaganza tips its hat to these incubators of a future southwest Saskatchewan.
“This year we decided on a theme of ‘Cowboy Boots and Prairie Roots’ because we wanted to focus on our rural Saskatchewan landscape,” says Tracey Stevenson, general manager of the Swift Current Ag & Ex which hosts the 81-year-old fair. “We live and work in rural Saskatchewan, but with that there are ever-changing cultures. So we are sharing our prairie roots, but also welcoming new cultures to create their own new prairie roots; as those new roots become part of our history.”
While it is important to acknowledge the influence of new cultures coming into southwest Saskatchewan, says Stevenson, it is equally important to pay tribute to the western traditions and agricultural heritage that set the foundation in the first place. And nothing brings new and old together in the region better than Frontier Days, states Stevenson.
She points to the annual Frontier Days Parade, which takes place at 10 a.m. on June 29 this year, as being a incredible exemplar of this type of blending of old and new.
“The parade is always a huge community event, and it coincides with market square downtown,” she says. “There is usually 5,000-6,000 people in that downtown core, and it is a way to celebrate and bring everyone together. It’s family-friendly, and it doesn’t cost you anything to watch. There’s always good rapport. People are excited. It’s a great way to celebrate the start of summer.”
“There is usually 5,000-6,000 people in that downtown core, and it is a way to celebrate and bring everyone together. It’s family-friendly, and it doesn’t cost you anything to watch. There’s always good rapport. People are excited. It’s a great way to celebrate the start of summer.”
This year’s parade theme is “Get Your Prairie On,” which encourages people to express their prairie pride in any way which suits them, and bring it out in public for the whole world to see and share with them. It could be a cowboy hat. It could be a Roughriders jersey— anything which says “Prairies” to you, says Stevenson.
“We want to invite people to show us what your tradition is and show us what your prairie pride is,” she states. “Or what their prairie roots are. And those roots are evolving every day. It’s a time to celebrate what all our roots are. It’s time to come together.”
Outside of monumental, Grandstand entertainment, there will also be cabaret shows playing nightly throughout Frontier Days after the Grandstand and Canadian Cowboy Association rodeo events.
Daily attractions include the popular annual midway rides provided by West Coast Amusements, equine events including heavy horse, ranch horse and lighthorse shows, the 4-H competitions, The Family Zone and Doc’s Town, just to name a few.
New this year, says Stevenson, is the Innovation Credit Union Fresh Air Cinema, which will play the film “Dumbo” on a big screen for the Grandstand audience on the evening of June 26 to provide a quality, family viewing experience. And the great thing about all this great entertainment and spectacle, says Stevenson, is it is incredibly affordable, with gate prices of just $5 for adults and students while kids 10 and under get in free.
“It’s a very affordable event for people to just come and walk in,” she says.
The entire four days of events and celebrations will go out with a bang, quite literally, says Stevenson, as Calgary-based Big Bang Fireworks Inc. brings the light and noise to the Living Sky Casino Fireworks Show on Saturday, June 29 starting at 11 p.m.
It’s a fitting way to cap off four fantastic days of southwest Saskatchewan’s greatest celebration of the summer, she says.
“We want to welcome everyone to come out this year,” says Stevenson. “Frontier Days was started to bring families together and we are still preserving that pioneering tradition and making new history together.”
For more information on Frontier Days visit www.swiftcurrentex.com.