By Stan Ashbee
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Last week, Exhibition Park in Lethbridge announced details on their new look and experiences at 2019 Whoop-Up Days Aug. 20-24 — which includes the StagEX Music Festival, road closure and alternative transportation, security measures and Exhibition Park’s cannabis policy during Whoop-Up Days.
Exhibition Park Chief Operating Officer Mike Warkentin said Whoop-Up Days, for a long time, has marked the culmination of summer for many southern Albertans.
“An annual turning point that allows us to enjoy the final days of summer, the thrills of the midway and the sights, sounds and tastes of everything the fair has to offer,” he noted, during a recent media scrum to unveil the new and improved family festival.
Once guests arrive to the festival’s grounds, Warkentin explained, they will be guaranteed an enhanced experience with a bigger midway and brand new rides, as well.
One of the biggest changes at Whoop-Up Days in 2019 is the allowance of cannabis consumption at the Whoop-Up Days StagEX Designated Cannabis-Use Areas — which opens nightly at 6:30 p.m.
“As the legalization of cannabis is new to all of us, we have been closely monitoring other Canadian fairs and summer music festivals — both for their regulations on cannabis and how such regulations were abided by and enforced during the events. After consulting with these industry partners, Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) and the Lethbridge Police Service we have developed a policy — which aims to ensure the safety, security, comfort and enjoyment of all of our guests,” it was stated in a recent media release.
According to the release, the possession of cannabis products or paraphernalia is permitted on Exhibition Park owned, operated or leased property in accordance with Lethbridge municipal and Alberta provincial bylaws and legislation.
At no time, is the consumption of cannabis permitted on the Whoop-Up Days midway or any other location on the grounds.
New security measures have also been implemented — which include bag check stations, metal detectors and security screening. All persons, bags, parcels, clothing and other items may be subject to screening/security checks.
“With all this excitement and change, comes an increased necessity to ensure the safety, security and comfort of our guests,” he said. During the media scrum, security officers demonstrated and discussed the new changes to entrances at the site.
To maximize the overall safety of guests, the east portion of Parkside Drive South will be closed in both northbound and southbound directions for the duration of the Whoop-Up Days Family Festival to accommodate the potential need for emergency exiting.
Guests are encouraged to ride-share, utilize pedestrian access, the Lethbridge Transit service or take advantage of the free park-and-ride shuttle service from the Enmax Centre.
Family Day returns Aug. 21 and features special discounted pricing. General admission tickets are $5 before 5 p.m. and a $25 ride wristband will be available for purchase on-site at the West Coast Amusement Ticket Booth until 1 p.m.
As for the StagEX Music Festival, general admission tickets grant access into the StagEX festival site and offer a fantastic concert viewing environment.
“The StagEX Music Festival has revamped the Gas King Stage and promises to deliver an entertainment experience Whoop-Up Days has never seen,” Warkentin added.