Barry Tappin is celebrating his 70th year with the Queen City Ex.
His love affair with the summer fair began as a kid when he lived just a few blocks from the Exhibition Grounds.
“You could look straight down to the grandstand and see the fair from there and the fireworks at night and everything else,” Tappin explained. “And I just got hooked on it.”
Tappin would come by as a child, enthralled by the food and the rides.
“My mom and dad would give me a five dollar bill, rides were five cents a piece, that’s an awful lot of riding. I’d take change home,” Tappin said.
Of course times have changed since then. The Queen City Ex has undergone numerous rebrandings, and there is now a lot more to eat than simply a hotdog.
“Corndogs, hotdogs, hamburgers, that was more the normal fair food, they didn’t have all the exotic or different things that have these days,” Tappin joked.
As a teen and adult, Tappin’s enjoyment of the event continued to the point that he became a volunteer.
Whereas many people take summer vacation to the lake, Tappin booked his time off from his 40-year career at SGI, just so he could work the fair.
He has been everything from ticket taker to coordinator to a member of the board and even a stint as president in 1999.
He has been in charge on Sunday’s pancake breakfast for 13 years.
“I don’t care what the name of the show was, what day it was or what year, to me it’s still all the people, the food, the games, the exhibits,” Tappin said.
Having seen many changes over the decades, Tappin still misses some aspects.
He remembers the days of the farm showcase, the art shows and even a space for local kids to display their work.
“Things they’d made in school, whether you were in grade seven, grade 10, grade 12, if you made something, you had a place to show it,” Tappin recalled.
His favourite memories are the days of Royal American Shows when the fair would arrive by rail car.
Following a raid in 1975 over income tax concerns, the show, out of Tampa, Florida, ceased to be.
That’s when Conklin Shows arrived eventually being bought out by American Midway Entertainment that we know today.
Tappin can be found this year at the Down Memory Lane exhibit at the Eventplex.
There you can see one of the few photographs of how many rail cars it took to bring the fair to Regina in the 1960s.
And despite a quadruple-heart bypass, his love of the rides, continues.
“I’ve ridden the slingshot here, three times, oh that’s a good ride,” Tappin laughed.