Century Downs Racetrack and Casino
Located just10 minutes south of Airdrie, off the Queen Elizabeth II highway, Century Downs offers slot machines, electronic table games and casino favourites such as roulette and baccarat. Visit on weekends, holidays and Mondays to enjoy the breathtaking spectacle of live horse racing. Racing calendar available online. On non-live race days, visit the spacious off-track betting area for more horse race action. Stop in at the Mid City Grill restaurant, open daily, and enjoy delicious, innovative dishes using ingredients from local Alberta farmers. centurydowns.com
With a variety of outdoor activities in the area – golf, hiking, horseback riding, paintball, skateboarding and white water rafting – Cochrane has something to offer everyone. Ideally located just a 25-minute drive southwest of Airdrie and less than an hour from Banff, the town offers spectacular vistas of the rolling foothills and majestic Rocky Mountains along the Cowboy Trail. Spend the day in historic downtown enjoying boutiques, fabulous restaurants, MacKay’s Cochrane Ice Cream and the town’s new distillery, Krang Spirits. Sample some local beer at Half Hitch Brewing Company. The Cochrane Farmers’ Market is a popular Saturday morning destination for visitors and locals alike, June through end of September, and will be holding once-a-month Street Markets in historic downtown. Other special events include the Cochrane Canada Day Family Festival, Zombie Survivor, Cochrane Fair, The Prairie Girls Vintage Market, Cochrane Classic Car Show and Cochrane Outhouse Races. Rodeo events include the Calgary Police Rodeo, Cochrane Classic Bullriding and the 51st Annual Cochrane Lions Labour Day Rodeo. cochrane-tourism.ca
Small-town charm awaits in Crossfield, just a 15-minute drive north of Airdrie. In honour of legendary 20th century bronc rider Pete Knight, who first rode in the Crossfield Rodeo in 1918, the town proudly hosts the annual Pete Knight Days each June. The celebration features a rodeo, dances, demolition derby, parade, fireworks and more.
While in Crossfield, be sure to stop in at the Crossfield Farmers Market, which runs every Thursday, June through September, outdoors at Banta Park (corner of Railway Avenue and Limit Avenue, beside the splash park) from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Find the best in local produce, baked goods, handmade arts and crafts and more, plus assorted weekly entertainment and demos. Also watch for the spring show in April and the Canada Day market June 29 (in 2017; check Facebook for details). The Christmas Market is held the first Saturday of November at the Crossfield Community Hall, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. crossfieldagsociety.com
Canada’s largest western store, Irvine Tack & Trailers is a family owned-and-operated shopping destination that appeals to window shoppers and serious buyers alike. Located near Crossfield, east of Highway 2, this 85,000-square-foot warehouse features western clothing, jewelry, decor, tack, rodeo gear, ranch supplies and more. With tons of inventory – such as more than 1,200 saddles in stock at any given time plus a huge supply of in-stock boots for the whole family – Irvine’s doesn’t disappoint. Ask about shipping arrangements if you can’t take your purchase with you. irvines.ca
Pioneer Acres (Irricana)
Travel back in time at this family friendly museum located just 20 minutes east of Airdrie, where volunteers work hard to collect, restore, maintain and demonstrate the artifacts once used by the pioneers of early Alberta. With 50 acres of land and more than a dozen buildings to explore, there is always much to do at Pioneer Acres. Discover how many of the conveniences we take for granted today simply didn’t exist in the early 1900s. Learn about the tractors, tools and machinery used during the early days of farming in the area, and peruse the displays of antique trucks, furniture and gas pumps, as well as the working grain cleaner, 1905 schoolhouse, blacksmith and wheelwrights shop. Enjoy dioramas on the family life of early settlers, including a fully equipped kitchen, a music room and a well-stocked General Store.
Feature 2017 events, such as the Spring Tractor Pull (May 27) and Steam and Stationary Engines (Sept. 9-10), highlight one or more areas of the museum.
Pioneer Acres’ main event of the year is the Annual Show and Reunion (Aug. 11-13 in 2017), which has virtually every piece of museum equipment running, and many outside exhibitors bringing displays, equipment, crafts and more.
The 2017 show will highlight Canadian Makes of Tractors and Equipment, in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. The show – where history really does come to life – will be bigger than ever, featuring a narrated parade to demonstrate the evolution of life through eras of time. The parade will begin with pioneers arriving with ox carts and horsepower to work the prairie, then show movement to the steam era, then to power and the more modern equipment of today. Incorporated into the parade will be grain trucks (from early years to more recent), a thrashing machine, a cook car and a bunk car, used when pioneers would work together in crews to farm the land, moving from farm to farm. Another highlight of the show will be a calliope, a colourful musical organ in a horse-drawn wagon. Please visit the website for more details closer to the event.
The museum is open daily from May through September. Admission is by cash only; no debit or credit cards are accepted. pioneeracres.ab.ca