125 years in the community!
Lethbridge is inviting, hospitable and collaborative. We’ve experienced that first-hand since gathering to host the first agricultural event, the Lethbridge & District Exhibition, with local ranchers and community-building citizens on October 5, 1897. We’ve been your proud gathering place for the past 125 years and we’ve welcomed millions of guests through our doors. Now, we look forward to bringing the world to Lethbridge over the next 125 years in Canada’s Premier Food Corridor.
Take a trip down memory lane with us as we share our rich history leading into our 125th birthday!
- The very first fair was held on October 5, 1897 at the agricultural grounds in Queen Victoria Park (renamed in 1955 to Gyro Park), and included stage presentations, traveling shows and horse racing. In 1904, eight years before the Calgary Stampede the first large-scale rodeo was staged as part of Whoop-Up Days in Lethbridge.
- The history of Lethbridge & District Exhibition is steeped in tradition, with many firsts for Lethbridge and district taking place at the fair grounds. In the past 125 years, our grounds played host to the original military training grounds and saw the first airplane flight in Lethbridge. It was the prime destination for the city’s first streetcar line.
- The first fair on October 5-6 cost 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children under the age of 14.
- Ray Knight, the father of stampedes, held the first rodeo in Canada in 1902 in Raymond, and brought his show to Lethbridge in 1903.
- The first parade was held in 1904 and in 1906, and the parade included over 400 Blackfoot members.
- At the turn of the century in 1910, the fair spotlighted the first balloonist in the city who flew up more than a mile, before jumping out and free-falling a quarter of the way down before another newly-fanged attraction burst open – the parachute.
- In 1911, more than 800 articles datelined Lethbridge had been written for newspapers and magazines around the world for the World Congress in Lethbridge which welcomed 5,000 delegates from 15 countries.
- July 4-6, 1946 the grounds welcomed home war veterans.
- The 1951 parade welcomed newly-crowned world champion hockey team, the Lethbridge Maple Leafs.
- A major attraction of the fair from 1964-1973 was the roaring and exciting world of stock cars. The stockers were welcomed to the fair in 1964 with a specially built track in the Whoop-Up Grandstand.
- The 1978 fair drew 3,000 people with soon-to-be rock superstar Kenny Rogers.
- In 1993, the first Whoop-Up Days art show was held in Heritage Hall featuring acrylics, water colours and oils as well as carvings, sculptures created by Southern Alberta artists.