It’s a staple of summer in Saskatoon, and it’s back for another year – the 132nd Saskatoon Exhibition opens on Tuesday.
But 24 hours before the gates open to the public, crews work to put some last minute touches on the setup.
“It’s always a busy time, it’s fun,” Susan Kuzma, special events manager for Prairieland Park said. “It’s great to be able to take in and create new things every year for fair patrons to come and see.”
Susan Kuzma is described as the orchestra coordinator at the helm of the Saskatoon Ex, this year’s fair is her 38th.
Kuzma is at the centre of the organized chaos that is the final hours of setting up and building ahead of the week-long festivities.
While many had the holiday Monday off, Kuzma and her staff worked to coordinate over 70 food vendors, well over 50 exhibitors, as well as entertainment, drivers, market vendors and the 47 rides on the midway.
“It’s a dream job really, it’s a wonderful experience, we have a fantastic staff,” Kuzma said.
This year’s ex is expecting over 200,000 people over the six-day event.
“The Ex is our flagship event, it’s the largest event in Saskatchewan,” Kuzma said.
“It’s really like a small city right here on the park, so we could do up to 60,000 people in one day here at the Ex.”
Over on the midway, 350 staff work to set up 47 rides. Many of the rides at this year’s Ex came in late Sunday night or early Monday morning after being used in Prince Albert and Regina for their respective exhibitions.
“We’re really good at this,” vice-president of North American Midway Entertainment, Scooter Korek, said.
Korek and his team do the quick turnover 19 times a year at exhibitions across Canada and the United States. They started in Florida earlier this spring and have made their way through the Calgary Stampede and K-Days in Edmonton, before heading east following the Saskatoon Ex.
“It will take us 10 to 12 hours to get set up here, but we’re going to be ready to rock and roll tomorrow,” Korek said.
Korek said they’re bringing classics to the Saskatoon Ex this year, but have a new ride called the Bonzai, which will take thrill-seekers upside down. They also have their Familyland section for younger riders.
“We have rides for both the young and the young at heart,” Korek said.
The Ex runs from Tuesday to Aug. 12t and five of the six days have specific themes with various entertainment and promotions. $10 Tuesday is the first promotion, with a $10 admission for all ages, all day for everything except rides.
Wednesday is Kids Day, Thursday is Kickin’ Country Day, Friday is Foodie FryDay, and Sunday is Family Day.
This year’s Ex will also feature classic fair food favourites, but also some new twists like the cricket grilled cheese sandwich.
As for entertainment, The Ruth Street Patio and Stage will hold free shows and acts throughout the Ex, while the SaskTel Grandstand will feature concerts including Carly Rae Jepsen, Tim Hicks and April Wine.
Daily admission for the Saskatoon Ex is $16 for adults, $14 for people 65 and over, $12 for youth aged 11 to 14, $10 for children aged seven to 10, and free for children six and under.
“Whether you’re bringing your grandchildren or your children, or whether its some of the older adults, lots of fun and entertainment for everybody,” Kuzma said.