The Western Fair: not
just for chronic gamblers
By Ian Van Den Hurk
Gazette File Photo
I DON’T WIN THIS RACE, I’LL END UP IN THE GLUE
FACTORY. Students looking to gamble away their tuition might
want to try the Western Fair racetrack.
Students in London looking for a new and entertaining experience
to occupy their weekend might want to consider the raceway at the
Though the track is traditionally frequented by older customers,
university students should not be afraid to test the waters. The
Western Fair offers a variety of opportunities, including slots,
a restaurant and the horse races.
Last Saturday, Fanshawe College student Rhian Griffith and University
of Waterloo student Sarah Baldwin were attending the races for
the first time, and both were excited to be there.
Griffith said she had wanted to visit the facilities for a while
and had heard about the races through word of mouth. She reasoned
that since she was not vacationing, the races would be a fun opportunity
to help fill in her long weekend.
Both ladies received generous treatment from track officials,
exemplifying the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the raceway.
“We just went to ask how we go about [betting on horses]
and we were given the grand tour,” Baldwin said. “This
is the friendliest place I’ve been in a long while.” In
fact, both Griffith and Baldwin were offered the opportunity to
take a lap in the pace car used to start the races.
When considering a visit to the races, the pair stand as an example
of the fact that university-age students should not be discouraged,
even if they are living within a tight budget. There is no cost
for admission to the track and bets can be placed on a horse for
as low as two dollars, which makes for a night that’s less
expensive than going to a bar. Many people even attend the races
simply to watch, though betting a few dollars on a horse certainly
adds some flair to the experience.
Those lacking knowledge about horse racing should also not be
dissuaded. Pamphlets regarding how to choose horses are available
for beginners, though Griffith and Baldwin used their own method
by simply picking based on a horse’s name.
Rick Felix has been associated with horse racing and the Western
Fair for more than 30 years. While he admits that he does not see
a lot of university students at the track, he believes the raceway
provides a social atmosphere that would be enjoyable for a large
group of friends. “It’s a situation where I know you,
and you know somebody, so everyone comes to the track [together],” Felix
The track restaurant Top of the Fair provides a unique opportunity
for friends to have a drink or meal or for a couple on a date. “It’s
a nice place [to] take your lady friend. It’s very scenic,” Felix
said with a laugh. The restaurant offers a great view of the track
and each table is also accompanied by a television, ensuring that
a couple or a group of friends will not miss any of the action.
Aaron Waxman, a 2001 Western economics graduate, has been interested
in horse racing ever since he was a toddler. Waxman encourages
students to check out the races to experience something different
outside the typical student night life.
“It’s a change of pace — a different thing to
do other than study or go to bars,” he said. “You get
a better value for your money versus going to a hockey or baseball
game and spending a hundred dollars,” he added, noting that
it is even possible to make money at the track.
The Western Fair holds horse races every Friday night and Saturday
afternoon. Interested parties can find more details at www.westernfair.com.