Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development honours the significant contributions Agricultural Societies make to their communities, by formally recognizing those societies that have been incorporated for 100 years or more with the Alberta Agricultural Society Century Award. A total of 22 agricultural societies were recognized.
Westerner Park has been an Agriculture society for 124 years and will be celebrating its 125 anniversary in 2016. The Red Deer Agricultural Society was organized on October 31, 1891, with Rev. Leonard Gaetz as the first president, and John Jost Gaetz the first secretary-treasurer. Red Deer's first fall fair was held in the Wilkins Block on Ross Street on October 11, 1892.
The Red Deer Agricultural Society purchased the first fairgrounds on the southeastern edge of the Red Deer valley. It was named Alexandra Park, in honour of Queen Alexandra. The Red Deer Fairgrounds were also used as a military training camp during the First World War between the years 1915 to 1917. Katherine Stinson made the first airplane landing in Red Deer's history in front of the grandstand during the annual Red Deer Fair, 1918.
The first Agri-Trade, a partnership between the Westerner Exposition Association and Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, was staged in October 1984. Agri-Trade celebrated its 20th year in 2004, growing from 70,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space to 400,000.
1992 began Westerner's partnership with the local WHL team, the Red Deer Rebels, with a 15 year agreement signed in 2005. ENMAX Centrium expansion began in 2011 adding 14 new luxury suites and 1,000 seats to the 6,000 seat facility.
With a total of 250,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space, Westerner Park is the 3rd largest facility in Alberta. Westerner Park hosts over 1,500 events and welcomes 1.5 million visitors each year.
Honourable Verlyn Olson, Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, presented Westerner Park, Vice President, Graham Heron with the Alberta Agricultural Society Century Award at the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies Convention on February 6, 2015.