Rhino's Ramblings - Rides, Goats And Barrels

By Robert Thomas Opinion/Comnentary

Like any opinion column I often get the inevitable question – Why don't you ever write something positive about what is going on in the community? There has to be something good going on so why not write about it?

Well despite what some may think there are a lot of good things going on which are helping create economic activity within Moose Jaw.

One of the bright spots – economic and let’s face it feel good - overlooked this Summer has been the Moose Jaw Exhibition Company.

It may have been a wet one for this year's Moose Jaw Hometown Fair – in fact rain cost the Fair it’s first day in close to a quarter of s century – but despite this for a city the size of Moose Jaw it was a fairly decent affair.

The parade this year was none too short of perfect.

Rains which should have been a damper this year were in fact a blessing.

Hot dry weather throughout the late Spring was something which really got on many people's nerves.

The Thursday of the parade looked like a hot and wet one but the rains actually helped cool things off and when the parade started most were in a very good mood.

This year's parade, in the minds of many people, was one of the best in a while.

Sadly though for the Fair the rains on Friday meant the belt driven rides on the Midway could not get traction and for the first time in a quarter of a century the Fair took a rain day.

Despite this there were hardy souls who headed out to the Exhibition Grounds and this is where the beauty of the small Hometown Fair took over. The schedule could be rearranged to give the hardy souls who showed up the best show possible.

The performers who should have been outside but could not because of the rain were moved inside to give people an opportunity for a bit of a show.

Saturday saw the hardy dodge rain showers the best that they could and despite often getting wet those who attended had a great time despite getting a little bit wet.

Sunday – with its half priced format for children on the kiddies rides and sunny weather – brought out one of the best crowds on the final day in years.

Now this is not a column about how the Hometown Fair made out in 2019 but rather I am going to talk about the underlying elements and keywords about it.

When I spoke to Moose Jaw Exhibition Company general manager George Fowler he stressed the Hometown Fair was a family friendly and reasonably priced (at least in the world of fairs) event. It sort of left me thinking that meant it was something geared for families.

But I now think I was wrong about about my initial feelings and there was more to it than what George was telling me.

It took a couple of parents I spoke to about the Hometown Fair to perhaps get the rest of the story.

For these parents they had forgone attending the Moose Jaw Fair but had headed into Regina one year with their small children for more rides and excitement than what was offered locally. But the next year they were back and vowing never again to Regina with young children.

The reason was quite simple they did not feel safe at the Regina Exhibition – whether rightfully or wrongly – because of the different atmosphere and often “creepy people” around the children’s rides.

Additionally their children did not have the same idea when it came to rides. They rode them without complaining.

So is this what Mr Fowler was referring to in a roundabout manner? If it is he is not saying.

But the banner year for the Moose Jaw Exhibition is not just the Fair (although financially it was not as successful as other years) but all of those other events they put on both big and small.

Things such as the Saskatchewan Goat Breeders show, which was started by Ernie Penney amongst others a few years back, brought in people from across the Prairie Provinces.

Although small attendance-wise, compared to the Fair, and often unnoticed the show is helping to drive Moose Jaw's economy in small but incremental ways.

Many attendees stayed in their own trailers but they also did venture out for coffee and some restaurant meals. Perhaps not a massive one shot economic flurry like the re-born Saskatchewan Air Show was in July but nevertheless I don’t think any restaurant or coffee shop owners were not grateful for the business.

I have no idea why but goats are popular everywhere

I have no idea why but goats are popular everywhere

The third jewel you could say in crown for the Exhibition Company has to be the Saskatchewan Barrel Racing Association and their provincial championships set to bring hundreds of competitors and their dollars to Moose Jaw.

It is a show which has not graced Moose Jaw for a couple of decades but it is – after a lot of hard work – back.

This is a show when held in Saskatoon the media there pointed out was a big economic driver over its three day run in 2018.

There is no doubt, despite the long days of competition, going to be a nice little boost to the local economy.

This is what is called a destination event which brings competitors, family and friends to a city and helps drive the local tourist industry.

The great thing about the championships is the event is free for the public to attend and the Saskatchewan Barrel Racing Association is hoping you will it is good vibes to promote their sport.

Although the three events mentioned here are the larger ones out at the Exhibition Grounds this Summer it all adds up and contributes to the local economy. Something many overlook.

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