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Energy City Ex is taking shape for 2024

The Estevan Exhibition Association is once again looking forward to hosting the annual event in June.
The KCRA Rodeo will once again be part of the Energy City Ex in 2024. File photo.

ESTEVAN - With less than four months left before the Energy City Ex – Estevan's beloved fair and rodeo event – the Estevan Exhibition Association (EEA) board is putting the preparation efforts into higher gear.

The event format will slightly change this year due to West Coast Amusement's decision to go with a three-day midway format, which will be accompanied by a three-day KCRA rodeo, all taking place from June 14-16 at the Estevan Exhibition grounds.

The Energy City Ex, as well as other EEA events and happenings, were discussed during the annual general meeting on Feb. 1.

Crystal Ross was elected a board president for another term, while Dallas Spencer is the first vice president, and David Holtz is the second vice. The EEA now has a full board.

"We haven't hit our constitution numbers for many, many years. We are up to 21 directors now and we are really excited to have that many more people on board to share the workload coming into 2024," said Ross.

The Energy City Ex was among the main topics addressed at the meeting. Ross said they were happy West Coast Amusement decided to return, even though they lost a day of the fair.

"We are just grateful to have three days this year. The midway company was actually thinking about retiring and there was no succession plan left. We were holding our breath for many months after the year ended last year, [waiting to see] whether they were going to commit to 2024. But they revamped some of their business, and they're coming back. They've committed to '24, '25 and '26 as of right now," Ross said.

She noted many vendors and local non-profits will be returning this summer. The cattle show is coming back and probably will be much bigger than in 2023 because it will be on a different weekend and won't overlap with other shows in the region. The quilt show will be on display again as well. The rodeo intermission will have entertainment, an element Ross said they've been missing for a while.

"We're trying to add more and keep it more and more exciting all the time," Ross said, noting more details will come in the following months. 

The Energy City Ex will also be the KCRA's first rodeo of 2024, and Ross expects it to be really energetic.

"The rodeo contestants voted us to be Rodeo of the Year for 2023, so they are already talking about coming back to us. They just loved our city and the facility. Our city is so welcoming to visitors," Ross said. "And it's the first rodeo of the year for the KCRA, so they're going to be very excited to kick off."

The EEA put some work into the grounds last fall, and they are excited for the competitors from all across to test it out.

"We've done a lot of cleanups, took out a lot of the things that just didn't need to be there anymore and erected a fence to better contain livestock for public safety. A lot has happened, and we're very excited about it," Ross said.

The second day of the fair and rodeo this year coincides with the Estevan Comprehensive School's graduation ceremony, which traditionally occurs at Affinity Place. Ross noted the EEA cannot flexible with the dates, but they are working with everyone involved to ensure things go smoothly and everyone has a great time.

"We met with the parents, we met with the city, we met with the exhibition board, everyone came to the table, and we've come to some solutions," Ross said. "Unfortunately, the midway tells us when they're coming, so we're not very flexible. But we are trying our best to ensure that the grads have a very smooth grad day.

"Once people are parked at Affinity Place and in the building, it will be fine. It's just a few hours in the morning that things might get a little congested and chaotic. But the exhibition association is 100 per cent supportive of the grads, ensuring that they have their perfect day. And I'm thinking we've come to a very good solution," she added.

The plan is to have the Affinity Place parking lot closed to be exclusively available to graduates, but only up until the ceremony begins in the early afternoon. After that, the parking lot will be reopened. Ross noted that the fair opens at noon and the rodeo doesn't start until 7 p.m. that day, so there will be just a few hours of the overlap. But on the other side, having the two events together can be beneficial for everyone.

"I think we also have to prove to the city and everybody involved that we can host many events together. We all want to work together to make it the best community events that we can have," Ross said.

Discussed during the AGM were other plans for 2024, which include the return of the Ladies' Night Out, a new event for December and other activities throughout the year. The details will be released closer to the events.

Also discussed during the AGM were the numbers for 2023. The EEA experienced growth in attendance by about 1,000 people, Ross said, and they hope to grow these results even further in 2024.