A lot of our favourite summer activities were cancelled last year and many were cancelled again this year. But with vaccination rates in Manitoba among the highest in Canada, we’ve seen restrictions eased and some entertainment return — like watching the Blue Bombers play in person, or just going to a restaurant with whoever we want.
One of my all-time favourite summer events is the Red River Ex. I really missed the distant sound of screaming and deep fried Snickers bars. (Trust me, you’ll understand once you’ve tried one.)
I’m excited to report that the Ex is back, baby! Well, rather, The Fall Fair. The name isn’t as catchy, but since it’s happening later this year with a few differences, it makes sense. And best of all, you’ll be helping support our local economy by attending.
It’s going to be like the good old days! Well, with one notable exception. All guests aged 12 and older must be fully vaccinated to attend. Yes, you heard that right. As per Manitoba Public Health orders, all guests must present their Manitoba Immunization Card/QR code (or their province’s form of proof) and matching photo ID to enter the Fair. QR codes can be scanned from a digital QR code or your Manitoba Immunization Card. Children 11 and under who aren’t eligible for the vaccine will be allowed entry, but they have to be accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult. Still worth it? Sure it is! Here’s the rundown.
The Fall Fair will run from August 27 to September 6, so you can enjoy all your favourite nostalgic activities, from gorging on deep-fried anything to riding a roller coaster to live music.
This year, the Fall Fair is thrilled to have 11 days of live music to help get local musicians back to doing what they love — performing — so get out there and support them.
For fans of rock to country music, you can hear local bands with epic names like Black Saddle, North 49, Damn Straight, Super Brain, Atomic Candy, Dead People’s Puggies, Dance Floor Army, Camper Special, Crackin’ Foxy, Pop Vegas and many, many more. The Red Barn Stage will host entertainment every single night as well with acts like Rockalypso, Men in Cheap Suits, Biivvers, Ingrid D Johnson & the Funky Fresh Crew and Night Train, to name just a few. Friday, Sept. 3, will be Indigenous Day with events yet to be announced.
All your favourite entertainment is back as well. The EXtreme Dogs and their boundless energy and agility. Real helicopter rides. Live animals. And some new attractions like the Canadian Military who can teach you a little about the very important jobs they perform to keep us all safe while showing us all sorts of cool equipment. A kid’s tractor pull (relax, it’s a pedal tractor!). Chainsaw carvers who will showcase their unique skills and even sell their carvings to you. Horse events that will include show jumping and barrel racing. Antique tractors will be on display, as well as model boats in the Boathouse. There will even be princesses and superheros for the kids at Family Adventure Park, along with children’s entertainers, an inflatable corn maze and best of all, dinosaurs!
No trip to the Fair would be complete without cotton candy and mini donuts. Get ready for some great eats and tasty treats this year. So many food trucks and vendors will be on hand that you’ll be sure to find your new favourite, along with your old standbys like Sno-Cones, Buffalo Burgers, smothered poutine and any new creations that have been dreamed up during lockdown.
While the food and merch is definitely a highlight, probably the most dynamic part of any fair are the rides. Particularly when they’re all lit up at night. The midway we’re used to experiencing during the Red River Ex is traveling elsewhere and isn’t able to stop in Winnipeg this year, but to the rescue are local Manitoba carnival companies Select Shows and Canuck Amusements. Do you wanna go faster?
Tilt-a-Whirl, the ferris wheel, Zipper, Ring of Fire, Sizzler, Starship 2000, they’ll all be there and more! For the kids there are more sedate rides like everyone’s beloved Tea Cups, the classic Merry-Go-Round, Bumble Bees, Fun Slide Boat Ride, Funhouse and even a train.
As part of Covid protocols, all the rides will be cleaned in between riders. This will probably result in a bit of a wait between turns, so be patient and demonstrate kindness. And to save yourself lots of money while providing unlimited screams and big grins, remember to buy that convenient wristband before you get there to avoid the hassle of counting ride tickets.
There is plenty of outdoor space to social distance at Red River Exhibition Park. All picnic tables will be spaced out to allow for ample room at stages and attraction areas. Everyone should remember to do their part to ensure physical distancing is maintained. Remember to self-screen before attending; as in, don’t go if you feel sick. Hand sanitizer, hand wash stations and washroom facilities will be available to clean and wash your hands, but masks must be worn when entering washroom buildings.
Do you want to remember what it feels like to get out of your house and spend an entire carefree day outdoors with other humans? Supporting local has never been more enjoyable.
For more information and to help support local, visit redriverex.com