The Polar Express at K-days (Northlands).
By Breann Gurney
K-Days returns to the Edmonton Expo Centre for the 140th year—but the fair seems to have lost touch with history.
The saloons, tailcoats, and hoop skirts of a lost age have vanished, replaced by money-making machines and shrieking children begging for more ride tickets. No longer do we see the matching mother-daughter combos strolling down the streets of Jasper Avenue wearing their finest gowns, or lines of women dancing the Can-can. In fact, very little remains the same. Even the name has changed.
Can-Can Dancers at Klondike Days, 1963 (City of Edmonton).
The event has taken on a few different names over the years and is touted as one of Edmonton’s treasures, but the Edmonton Agricultural Society built the 10-day attraction in 1879 to focus on improving agricultural practices and salute gold rush pioneers. Other than the cow cuddling and importance of a shiny dollar featured in this year’s theme, “K-Days Overloaded,” doesn’t seem to be taking the original mission too seriously.
Organizers have announced that this year will be chock full of surprises, including a world-record setting dance party, volleyball, and the world’s largest etch-a-sketch. Northland’s own Tom Sorel said he was overloaded with excitement for the upcoming attractions during the dance party announcement on May 9.
“All you need to participate in this world record attempt is a general K-Days gate admission ticket,” he said. “So, brush up on your ‘Baby Shark’ dance moves and join us … as we attempt to become world record holders.”
Along with the exciting activities surrounding “Baby Shark,” K-days continues to veer off-course. This year’s festival has added more to its agenda in an attempt to milk the cash cow: they are making it an all-ages music festival. Alongside other retro artists targeting Edmonton’s middle-aged is Aqua—a band that is sure to rake in the dough by attracting the city’s “Barbie Girls.”
The line-up announcement came from Tony Payne, a spokesperson for K-Days, who says that organizers are trying to make the fair friendlier for everyone withconcert prices included in the general admission. Payne says he expects to entice the older crowd to join in on the throwback with style.
But a throwback to what, exactly? Unless Aqua has suddenly started singing about growing corn, panning for gold, and herding cattle since they fell off the radar, this feels like a throwback to consumer capitalism.
“We have something for everyone,” Payne says.
And he means it—including a higher priced value pass that gives front stage access to pass holders. These new Premium Party tickets come at a premium price and, as can be expected from the herd mentality, are said to be selling out fast.