Trade fair lives up to the hype

Sherry Gummow

Sherry Gummow


It was a wild wild time — in more ways than one — at the Ponoka Trade Fair April 9 and 10.

The trade fair featured all different types of businesses from car dealerships to colleges, and from furniture outlets to financial institutions and everything in between.

Close to 5,000 people went through the door during the two-day event.

“Everything seemed to run really smoothly this year and everybody seemed to have a good time,” said Kris Mickelson, Ponoka Chamber of Commerce trade fair committee chair.

“It’s been really steady and we’ve had good feedback from vendors and the people attending. It’s been really positive,” said Lana Johnson, executive manager of the Ponoka Chamber of Commerce.

She added that some patrons had come to see the new vendors that the chamber added this year while others have come back to see the familiar face of a business owner who has been in the trade fair for years.

Businesses of all types were showcasing their services, selling product and in many cases, putting a face to the name of their company for the people of Ponoka.

Vendor’s expectations of the weekend ranged depending on what type of business they were.

“Some expect on-site sales and other just expect to meet future contacts, so it’s been really great,” added Johnson.

The trade fair wasn’t just about business however,

Johnson said she wanted to see an atmosphere that was welcoming for the entire family.

“We have had a lot of entertainment to get the families to come out and enjoy themselves and stick around. Spend a few hours here if they can,” said Johnson.

“I was really happy with the added entertainment we had this year. The mechanical bull was a big hit and went over really well, and the petting zoo was huge with the little kids,” said Mickelson. “I think the entertainment really helped, not only with the kids having fun but with tying into the Wild Wild West Round Up theme with the sponsorship of the Ponoka Stampede Association. It all worked really well and it was neat to see the booths dressed up in the western theme.”

The entertainment Mickelson spoke of certainly didn’t disappoint.

A stage featured local musicians and school choirs throughout.

Christie the Clown kept smiles on kids’ faces as she walked around providing laughs for young and old.

The petting zoo was as full with children as it was animals as kids got an opportunity to pet rabbits, goats, piglets and a variety of other animals.

Another one of those animals was Wild West Willie who wowed the audience with his sheer size and while Willie allowed children to pet him, the mechanical bull, at the other end of the small rink, sent children and adults spiralling through the air pre- and post-eight seconds.

A new booth gave youngsters a chance to learn first-hand how to rope a steer as students from the Battle River High School Rodeo and Ponoka Composite High School’s Rodeo Academy showed the kids how to hold and throw a rope.

Ponoka gymnasts displayed their talent — and flexibility — during a show that saw athletes do things you wouldn’t want to try at home.

And all the while, at all the events, kids eyes were big. The only thing bigger was the smile on their painted faces.

One minor blip on the radar provided some added entertainment that unfortunately no one got to witness Friday night. During normal rounds, security noticed one of the goats from the petting zoo had knocked down a piece of the fence used to keep the animals penned in — from there the trade fair really lived up to its Wild Wild West Round Up theme.

“It was pretty funny. We were trying to round up the pigs and then one got into the donkey’s pen and he started freaking out. Myself and these two security guards are trying to get all the animals corralled and the ducks are clipped and can’t fly but they’re going crazy all around us, so it was quite the experience for sure,” said Mickelson with a chuckle.