The smell of cotton candy and mini donuts, the prospect of winning a prize at the ring toss and the sound of midway rides spinning and glowing into the night is what comes to mind when the Red River Ex rolls into Winnipeg.
There is more to the annual travelling midway than rides, games and foods, however.
This year there is more agriculture.
A heritage park on the grounds simulates farm life on the prairies circa 1824.
Cuteness abounds with baby animals flitting about from pen to pen, and the park showcases how actual Manitoban Hugh Ross and his family lived and farmed.
Red River Ex tickets available at Sobeys, Mac's Convenience Stores, redriverex.com
- Gate tickets: $9
- Unlimited pass: $45.15
- 12-ride pass: $26.25
Brady Ewasiuk plays a character helping out on Hugh Ross' family farm. His duties include tending to farm animals — sheep like Buddy, Lulu, Skinny and Buttercup, which are from his real family farm.
Ewasiuk said it's important for people to know how traditional farming was done.
“Then they know what the meat [is] from,” said Ewasiuk.
Visitors can also expect to bump into Chris Black, who plays Hugh Ross at the heritage park.
“You can see their big woolly coats are gone,” said Black, referring to the neatly shorn family of sheep on hand. ”We've got it in a big canvas bag, so some of the women and children are actually doing some carting and spinning.”
Black said one of the goals of the exhibit is to demonstrate how wool is harvested from sheep and turned into sweaters and other pieces of clothing.
Black said they're trying to let families have fun and learn at the same time through hands-on experiences with the livestock.
Garth Rogerson, CEO of the Red River Ex, said the hands-on approach was a conscious decision made by the Ex. “We were established to promote agriculture way back in the day,” said Rogerson. “We got a little bit away from that, but we're really re-embracing our mandate to promote agriculture.”
Rogerson said in light of refocusing on traditional agriculture the heritage showcase is more family friendly, too.
“We have the stock dog show next weekend, we have blacksmithing demos, sheepsheering — all things that are interesting to watch,” said Rogerson.
The Red River Ex runs June 13 to 22.