FORT ASSINIBOINE - The Fort Assiniboine Agricultural Society is looking to the past to help celebrate its annual Hamlet Hoedown celebration this Friday to Sunday, Aug. 18-20.
Ag society vice-president Jen Christianson noted that this year's theme is "Back to our Roots" in honour of the organization's 50th anniversary.
"We wanted to bring back some of the old themes and events that were popular in years gone past," she said, noting they've been holding the Hamlet Hoedown as long as the society has existed.
However, she noted that the event wasn't always called the Hamlet Hoedown.
Initially, she said, the society named the weekend event "the Gold Rush", as Fort Assiniboine was an integral part of the Klondike (or Chalmers Trail), which was part of the main route to the gold fields in Yukon.
Some of the nostalgic events the society is bringing back include axe-throwing on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. as part of the Kids Corner activities.
Another of the events they are bringing back is a sheepdog herding demonstration by Thad Buckler on Saturday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the rodeo arena.
Christianson notes the event dates back to the first summer celebration event the society hosted in 1973.
The hoedown officially kicks off on Friday afternoon at the curling rink with a tradeshow and farmer's market from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and returns the next day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The rodeo, which is part of the Wildrose Rodeo Association WRA circuit, begins at 6 p.m. The second night of the rodeo also starts at 6 p.m. The Friday rodeo will also feature wild pony races and a performance by the Daring Divas, a trick-riding duo.
The WRA will also hold a rodeo slack on Saturday, starting at 8 a.m.
The wild pony races are the grand entry for the Friday night rodeo, while mutton bustin' serves as the grand entry for the Saturday night rodeo.
Admission to the rodeo is $10 for adults, $5 for youth between six and 16 years, and free for children five and under.
A bench show will also start Friday at 4 p.m., going on into the next day, featuring everything from horticulture and baked goods to crafts and artistic works.
A 10 p.m. fireworks display will conclude the first night of activities.
On Saturday, festivities kick off at the curling rink with a pancake breakfast from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.
The parade starts 30 minutes later at 10 a.m.
"We are encouraging all entries to embrace the 'Back to our Roots' theme," she said. "For (the ag society's float), we went through all our old brochures and will have all the old hoedown themes represented."
Christianson said the society would also be adorning the foyer of the curling and ice rink with displays of memorabilia from the ag society's history.
Concessions at Walsh Park open at 11 a.m., though there will also be a beef-on-a-bun concession at Legion Hall at 11:30 a.m.
The Fort Assiniboine Lawn Mower Racing Association will also be staging their annual competition on Saturday in Walsh Park from 1 to 3 p.m.
There will then be a live auction at the arena from noon to 1:30 p.m. and, as noted earlier, a Kid's Corner behind the arena from noon to 3 p.m.
Christianson said in past years, their Kids Corner mainly focused on features for young children, such as face-painting, tattoo and balloon artists, and inflatables.
"And we are still doing all that, but we wanted something for older youth and adults," she said. "So we are bringing in a mechanical bull, a full-sized miniature golf course and the axe-throwing booth."
Saturday’s festivities will end with an old fashioned ‘dance in the dirt’ in the rodeo arena featuring country artist Travis Dolter.
For those looking for adult beverages, there will be a beer garden on both Friday and Saturday, starting at 5 p.m. on Aug. 18 and 1 p.m. on Aug. 19. The Fort Assiniboine Royal Canadian Legion's lounge will also be open on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Hamlet Hoedown concludes on Sunday with the North Country Junior Rodeo Finals starting at noon.