80 Years Strong: Frontier Days returns to its roots

By Tim Kalinowski


Turning tumbleweeds, dusty prairie roads, hardworking cowboys, bucking horses and homemade cobbler pie. Turn the clock back to 1938 and you will witness a region just beginning to emerge from the Great Depression with the rumblings of yet another world war on the horizon in Europe.

It isn’t any wonder the volunteers of what was then called the Kinetic Club, later rebranded the Swift Current Agricultural & Exhibition Association, decided to throw a big community party to cheer things up a bit, and bring people together for the first Frontier Days.

Eighty years later Frontier Days is still going strong, says Swift Current Ag. & Ex. general manager Tracey Stevenson, and she and her fellow organizers know who they have to thank for it— the community members who continue to volunteer, and the spectators who continue come out year after year, generation after generation.

“The theme for Frontier Days this year is ‘Hats off to 80 years,’” she says. “We want our communities to show us what their spirit is. We are showing you our community spirit at the Swift Current Ag. & Ex., and we want to see what your community spirit is.

“And we know there is lots of spirit out there; Swift Current is such a great community with all sorts of things going on. So we say let’s join together again, as we have for 80 years, and celebrate that.”

This year’s Frontier Days will be held June 28-July 1 in Kinetic Park in Swift Current, and Stevenson promises lots of excitement, plenty of affordable family fun and more nods to the past over four packed days of events and celebrations.

“I don’t think it matters what you come to do at Frontier Days, there is always something to turn your head,” says Stevenson.

“There is such a diverse group of entertainers and you can watch the horse and rodeo events. Even watching the 4-H kids with their animals is completely amazing.

“There are many things to come out to do and see, and it is affordable. We still have the $5.00 admission and kids 10 and under are free.”

Besides the excitement of the ticketed attractions like the midway rides, the professional CCA rodeo events and live musical entertainment, there are plenty of free extras thrown in this year to ensure everyone who comes out has a fabulous time during Frontier Days.

“We wanted to celebrate the community by offering different entertainment,” says Stevenson, “so we thought we would have a free entertainment night. So new this year is the mini-chuckwagon races and the wild pony races.

“The mini-chuckwagons and the wild ponies is just a complete family event, and that is what we are about: We are about family and we are about community.”

And there is more, says Stevenson. Step right up folks, and enter the world of Dr. Von Houligan’s Carnival of Calamities.

“It is similar to the medicine shows and carnivals that used to be back in the 1930s and 1940s,” Stevenson explains, “where they would have different acts playing under a big top tent. We thought that was a great event to have while we are celebrating 80 years, to bring back the old traditions.

“So there will be things like sword-swallowing, juggling, magic, balancing acts and all those traditional carnival performances you would see 80 years-ago touring around the prairie towns. And that’s free to everybody who comes out to Frontier Days.”

And with two cabarets headlined by hard-charging country music acts like Bobby Wills, the James Barker Band, Mitch Larock and the 4:45 Band, and the Chris Buck Band, Stevenson says anyone coming out to this year’s Frontier Days is sure to have a barn-storming good time.

“Come out and celebrate with your family and your friends,” says Stevenson. “You can share some old memories and create some new ones. And let’s hopefully carry on for another 80 years!”

Frontier Days fires up on June 28 with W.W. Smith Pancake Breakfast and the Kick-off Branding ceremony.

The “Hats off to Community Spirit” Frontier Days Parade starts at 10 a.m. on June 30.

For more information on this year’s Frontier Days and a complete events listing visit swiftcurrentex.com.