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Page Index of A History of Portage la Praire
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Even old-timers can't recall the date of the first 24th of May celebration, but for many years Portage "vas the centre of attractions on that date. Provincially it was Portage's day, and before the common use of the automobile as many as four and five trains would arrive in the morning, loaded with Bands, athletes and spec ta tors. The Bands would play on their way to Island Park, and during the day baseball tournaments, football tournaments, and lacrosse tournaments would all be taking place at the same time inside the race track. Later there was harness racing; and all the while concession rides, side shows and refreshment booths would play their part on the gala-day.
Fireworks usually ended the festivities on the Island. Old folks went home to rest after a full and exciting day, while the younger set added a fev v , extra hours of fun by attending dances downtown.
Similar celebrations were yearly events in Portage until the early 1950s when they were discontinued. With so many sporting activities and various entertainments taking place all the time, 24th of May celebrations are now merely memories. Among the 'special' days now are the ones called: Crazy Days, Portage Fair and Fun Festival.
This is a time when everyone, from the very young to the aged, can have a lot of fun; a time when you can 'let your hair down' and cast your cares to the winds. You can dress any way you care to dress, and do anything you care to do (within the law, of course).
In 1968, the Crazy D<lYS were May 31st and June l st, and from the moment you reached Saskatchewan Avenue until you left to go home again, you just had to be smiling!
The two-day fun-fest of '68 was based on a Gay Nineties theme which was very much in evidence in all the business establishments in the city, as well as at all the street stalls where merchants were selling their wares. Hoop-skirted ladies with gay bonnets and gentle men resplendent in top hats and suits worn in the '90s turned back the pages of time for many an old-timer. We saw a few ladies, dressed in old-fashioned house-dresses, with dust bonnets on their heads; and there was a fellow meandering through the crowd with a goat on a leash! Seeing someone having a shave in the middle of the Avenue was good for a few laughs too.