With a history dating back almost to the origins of Canada as a nation, the Portage Industrial Exhibition Association has been celebrating the significance of our region’s agricultural heritage since 1872. From its attractiveness to the earliest European settlers to make their home in the west to today’s role in feeding not only our own nation but the world beyond our horizons, agriculture continues to be at the heart of everything that we do.
First organized as the Marquette Agricultural Society and holding its first fair on October 16th, 1872, the early support ensured that this would become an annual event. In the following years, the organization evolved into the Portage and Lakeside Agricultural Society. On February 13, 1907 the Portage Industrial Exhibition was established as a shareholder company with one thousand shares.
The fair was the result of an expressed interest in the agricultural community. In 1923 it became a Western Canada Fair which included a midway and platform attractions. It soon became a family event, the highlight of the year. Exhibitors camped in tents, groomed themselves as best they could in cold water from the pump. Livestock was groomed and washed, stalls were decorated attractively and no one thought of going to the fair without walking through the barns and carefully viewing every entry in the exhibition hall. Machinery displays were extensive and Harness Racing was a regular feature at the fair. Throughout the changes, there was never an interruption in the presentation of the annual agricultural fair, which stands today as one of western Canada’s longest running annual events, looking to celebrate its 150th year in 2022.
The mission of the Association holds true to its origins with four basic principles:
A. The promotion and improvement of the livestock industry.
B. The demonstration of handicrafts of home cooking and needle work.
C. The display of industrial products.
D. The promotion of the arts and other cultural pursuits.
From our home, situated at the heart of Portage la Prairie’s “Island on the Prairies” which has been designated a Manitoba Star Attraction in 2018, we are excited to welcome visitors each year to a site that ranks among the most attractive fair settings in Canada.
Just like the agricultural industry that we honor, the Portage Industrial Exhibition Association has continued to adapt and evolve in step with the sector. With a dedicated volunteer Board of Directors and a dynamic staff on site, we endeavor to not only maintain our schedule, but to expand our services and perpetually re-invest for the future to ensure that the Portage Ex continues to be a mecca of agricultural celebration for many years to come.