‘The fair gets in your blood’: Memory Lane shares history of Queen City Ex
Rollie Bourassa has been coming to the Queen City Ex for 54 years. He first travelled to the fair for work, and kept coming back to share stories of exhibitions gone by.
“Things really have changed,” said Bourassa, now an ambassador for the annual event. “You ask people now if they’re doing any canning, and you don’t get too many who even know what you’re talking about.”
These days, Bourassa spends his time on Memory Lane – a display of photos and artifacts of the Ex over the years.
“We try to gather up collectibles and anything people have,” he said.
The exhibition first made its way to Regina 134 years ago, and there have been some changes along the way. Once known as Buffalo Days, it was rebranded as the Queen City Ex in 2009. Once a provincial show, the Ex fair winners from all across Saskatchewan.
“We had machinery roll from Elphinstone Street to the grandstand,” Bourassa said. “All the barns were active.”
Now, the barns are gone and the focus of the event has shifted.
“There are other offerings for fair-goers to go to, such as concerts (and) commercial exhibits,” said Scooter Korek, vice president of client services with North American Midway Entertainment.
This year’s event features new rides, new food and a whole new look. Construction is underway on the International Trade Centre and Mosaic Stadium is open. Organizers say they’re looking at working those buildings into the footprint of the event next year.
“We’ve been with this classic-type layout, which has worked very well for us, for a number of years now,” Korek said. “Maybe it’s a good time for us to go and reexamine all of that, take a look and see if we can change it around.”
On top of building renovations, outdoor spaces are changing too. The newly-renovated Confederation Park has become a community hub on the grounds.
“To have the park back online this year is wonderful,” said Paula Kohl, director of marketing and communications with the Regina Exhibition Association Ltd. “We have the beer gardens in there, and bands, daily entertainment.”
With all the improvements, Bourassa says he feels some nostalgia for the exhibition’s past. But, one thing keeps him coming back.
“Meeting the people,” he said. “The fair gets in your blood.”