In a city known for partying, nearly 782,000 people in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada must have been ready to get down. That's how many attended the city's largest, annual, 10-day festival of frenzy, food and fun.
K-Days just underwent a name change to make it sound more modern and catchy, said Lauren Andrews, public relations specialist for the fair. There must have been some magic in that move, since the event hasn't drawn such overwhelming crowds in the last 13 years.
K-Days started out as Klondike Day in 1879. It was a way to celebrate the gold rush heritage and the events surrounding it. "Edmonton was on the road to the Yukon," said Andrews.
The festival was started by the Northland organization and is still run by basically the same company all of these many years later. The name of the festival has changed several times. It was Edmonton's Capital X or Capital X for several years, but Andrews said she doesn't believe anybody really liked those names.
This year, everybody seemed to be celebrating the historic version and the themes included in the festival that gave insight into the time the festival was rooted.
Edmonton is a big city with a population of more than 800,000 people. It's known as "The Festival City." It has one of North America's largest malls and Canada's largest living history museum.
With a population of more than 812,000 people according to the 2011 census, the people in the city of Edmonton, or Edmontonians, as they are called, had a say in the new name.
"I think the length of time the festival has been going on shows the resilience of the people involved," said Andrews. "Everything - from the midway to the horse racing to the concerts was just sparkling."
Admission to the 10-day event was $14 daily for adults and $10 for children. Senior citizens were admitted for $7. A "ride all day" ticket that included gate admission sold for $59.
The general admission ticket included all concerts and a variety of attractions. The festival also featured fireworks every night.
Run by North American Midway Entertainment, the midway covered several acres of the 160-acre Northland Park campus, said Andrews. One of the most popular rides was also the newest. The Mach 3 was made up of an extended rod with two seat pods on either end. The ride zipped the passengers up before the rod came to rest completely upright, providing an aerial view of the fair. There were plenty of affordable passes available to fit most incomes, Andrews said.
The kickoff parade at the beginning of the festival on July 19 had 110 parade entries, nine giant inflatable balloons and seven marching bands.
And there was food for every appetite - from the gourmet to fair food. One of the most popular attractions was the rib pit, brand new at the festival this year. Barbequed ribs were offered in the open air. There was also Montreal smoked meats, duck confit Panini, an East Coast interpretation of Waldorf salad, lobster roll, Atlantic clam chowder, salmon wrap, crab and corn fritters and Okanagan peach cobbler.
Some food was a little more daring. Everything fried was offered on the menu. There was fried butter, wrapped in pastry and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, fried Oreos, jalapeno fudge, bison sliders, deep fried pies and Idaho tacos - a baked potato loaded with everything you'd find on a taco.
If that wasn't enough, there was pulled pork poutine, mini donuts, Japanese hot dogs. Pizza on a stick and beef and barley soup.
The weather was perfect, Andrews said, between 80 and 85 degrees throughout the festival. Edmonton has little rain, and the weather was true to form. It rained only one day during the 10 K-Days and it wasn't a hard or nasty rain, she said.
Burton Cummings, Carly Rae Jepson, Classified and The Tea Party rocked the new stage, Andrews said. Jepson was quite a splash with her well known hit "Call Me Maybe."
"There was horse racing and a concert going on at the same time," said Andrews. "It was really exciting."
One of the most popular inside displays was "Our Alberta," exhibited the assets, geography and important sites in the province. The "kids and the farm" display showed children how vegetables are grown, how farm equipment runs as well as the animals used on the farm.
The live entertainment culminated with a local talent show where local acts were invited on stage to show off their talents. Participants were between the ages of 5 and 30.
The winner was a 13-year-old hip-hop dancer, Josh Beauchamp, who has been taking dance lessons since he was 5.
In the Klondike section of the park, those attending the festival got a chance to pan for gold every day. The final event brought back "Klondike Kate," a woman who portrayed a popular saloon singer from the old days. There was even a cowboy boot camp.
"The Klondike was our theme on the closing day," Andrews said. "The festival used the moniker Klondike Days from the early 60s to 2006. We really tried hard to go back into history. It was a challenge but I think everybody enjoyed it."