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2020 Twenty: Attend a Summer Fair with Kids

I’m an event junkie. One of my favourite summertime events is the fair. Being Canadian, I’ve never had the opportunity to attend a famous “state fair” (the one in Texas has always captured my attention) but we have a few huge events here in western Canada, nonetheless.

In Calgary, where I grew up there is none bigger than the world famous Calgary Stampede. With the exhibition currently in its 134th year and the stampede in its 108th year, this event has obviously stood the test of time. I even use it as a case study in one of my college level event planning classes, where I expose and explain WHY this event has survived over a century and then teach my students which elements of the event they need to replicate for success in their own events. I mention this all, because one of the biggest secrets has to do with kids - and I want to bring my kids to the Calgary Stampede. To begin with, I just want to show them a larger-than-life event where once in the middle of the venue, you can no longer even see the outside “real world”-you’re just surrounded by the wonder and excitement of the event. Then, obviously I want to show them the attractions. The food - although it would probably only be Madison and me enjoying it all. The rides - I hope the boys enjoy rides like you would find at an amusement park or summer fair. The music - this should be a given as they've all been to concerts before and they all love music. (We have it playing constantly in our home so, I’m sure this aspect of the fair will be a hit). And then the focal point of the entire event: the rodeo. I’m sure they will be fascinated with eyes wide open.

Here in BC the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) Fair is the hot ticket. I’ve only been to it once, but it was incredible and everything I would expect from a summertime fair with far too much to see and do in one day. With the PNE in its 110th year, much like the Stampede there would be lots of history, heritage and culture to experience and show the kids within the event. I think my biggest fear would be the enormous attendance. With both of these events attracting over a million people, I’d probably lose Ethan before we walked through the gate.

There is one more that has survived over a century, and that’s the semi local Armstrong IPE (Interior Provincial Exhibition). Turning 120 years old this year, it’s the smallest of the three fairs, but possibly the best one to get your feet wet. While it’s not nearly as exciting, and has far less to see and do, I have to be very aware of just how much my family can handle. And just because this fair is smaller, doesn’t mean there aren't amazing things to see and do. Besides, with it being just 45 mins away, we could easily make it a day trip which would be much more attainable for my family.

So there you have it; one goal with at least three viable options to chose from to complete it this year. If I were on my own, this goal would be completed within the first week of summer. I’d probably go to all three of them. But unfortunately with this goal, I have to rely on four others in order for it to happen and be fulfilled and I’m not certain they’re all ready yet to make this a reality. Maybe it's not the entire family that goes this year, or maybe it's just a teaser this year, where we just go and look around for an hour or two. I don't know what it will look like for our family--given we do everything differently in order to accommodate our kids.

What I do know is that everyone - not just my kids, need to attend at least one summer fair in their lives!



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