For many Manitobans, Portage la Prairie is a bypass on the Trans-Canada Highway, a missed chance to experience this historic hub. PortageX is one reason to visit this summer.
Now in its 145th year, PortageX is one of western Canada’s longest continuously running fairs.
“In 1872, fair people came to town on the train, by horse and buggy or by foot,” Velma Nicoll, secretary for the Portage Industrial Exhibition Association (which hosts the fair), says.
“At this year’s fair, we will bring back some of its history by having vintage displays,” Nicoll says. These include quilts and antique cars and equipment.
There will also be “a display of livestock and poultry that were raised in the past before the rise in industrial agriculture,” she says.
Although begun as an agricultural fair, PortageX has expanded to include a modern midway, rides, concessions and extensive live entertainment, including musical tribute bands celebrating the past.
Along with the music, performances will also feature many forms of dance, including Ukrainian, Indigenous, line-dancing and Prairie clogging.
And no fair would be complete without animals. PortageX includes horse shows and races, cattle demonstrations and one unique event.
“There will be a pen of alpacas, and the owner will show fair-goers how to spin alpaca hair into wool. Just keep your distance, as they like to spit when they become upset,” Nicoll says.
PortageX offers up an opportunity to explore history in a modern fair environment.
“We challenge everyone to come to the fair and participate in a piece of our history, see agriculture up close and have some fun,” Nicoll says.
WHEN July 7 to 9
WHERE Portage la Prairie, Man.
$$$ $10 per day, three-day pass for $25
DON'T MISS Waci-oyate Powwow at 12 p.m. at the Tent stage on Saturday