On July 11th, 1970, the Brandon Winter Fair was granted Patronage by a visit from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the event officially became the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair!
However, the story truly begins in 1882 shortly after the incorporation of the city of Brandon. The Brandon Ag Society was formed to showcase and promote the sale of agriculture products. Local businessmen put up $200 and called for entries for cattle, horses, pigs, poultry and grains.
This was the start of the exhibition's first fair, known today as the Manitoba Summer Fair, held at that time at the corner of what is today 10th and Victoria Ave. The Manitoba Summer Fair was moved to the current Keystone Centre grounds in the late 1800's.
It was very successful, which inspired a second fair held in March, and thus the Brandon Winter Fair was born in 1906.
The purpose of this early spring fair was primarily to promote the sale of livestock and to encourage improvement in the breeding lines and care of animals. Educational opportunities, displays, lectures and meetings by breed associations and other ag groups, as well as implement dealers and ag manufacturers were added. And it grew!
The Brandon Winter Fair began on the Keystone grounds in1906 and was later moved to the Wheat City Arena location and remained there until the building of the present-day Keystone Centre, which now hosts the Provincial Exhibition's three major events: Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, the Manitoba Summer Fair, and Manitoba AG EX.
2024 marks the 118th year for the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair (RMWF) held each year during Manitoba's spring break.
The RMWF is a tourism highlight in Western Canada and boasts one of Western Canada's largest agricultural events. It claims the largest annual event to be held in Brandon and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Events in North America.
To host this large of a Fair, the Provincial Exhibition relies heavily on their volunteer committees and helpers!
"We're all committee based, "shares Provincial Exhibition General Manager, Mark Humphries. "We have various lines of committees underneath the staff that give us all the loose ends that we have to knot them together. Every part of the RMWF has a separate organizing committee, from Heavy Horse, to Hackneys, to Barrels to Jumpers. And then VIP Committees and various activity committees. And then they all meet and give us direction and our staff have to make it work!"
Humphries remarks on how the Winter Fair has adapted over the past 118 years to the current day is tremendous.
"And it's all volunteer based, apart from the 9 staff we have in the office," he notes. "But what you see on the floor at the Winter Fair, it's a beast of an event! There are so many moving parts and there's over a hundred volunteers who get involved."
"We obviously couldn't do it without our wonderful volunteers!"
Please listen to more with Mark Humphries below!
Do visit their website HERE to learn more about the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair!