It’s that time of the year again! Have a craving for deep fried bacon wrapped Mars Bars? Can’t get enough of those crispy elephant ears loaded up with strawberries and whipped cream? Or perhaps you’re just a thrill seeker looking to have your blood pressure elevated while you fly through the air in a rotating cage ride that was sitting in pieces on a flat bed the day before. Venture past the midway and food booths and the fall fair is a great place to see the simpler things that country life is full of: baked goods, jars of tasty goodies and intricate hand made quilts. Yet a trip to the fair isn’t complete without a stroll through the livestock barns and if you’re lucky, you may just happen to be in one of the barns when a livestock competition is happening. At first glance, the rows of cattle, sheep or goats may simply look like a livestock display where the local farmers have brought their animals in for the City folk to pet, but if you stick around for a bit you’ll quickly notice that it isn’t a petting zoo- there’s some serious competition going on. Most of these shows are sanctioned events and farmers who consider themselves “breeders” value the opportunity to have one of their animals wear the Grand Champion ribbon. The livestock shows are still one of the main reasons we have agricultural fall fairs.
As a farm kid I was a regular at 4-H and fall fairs were the ultimate “judgement day”- the day I’d find out just how good the calf my parents had selected from the herd- the one that I had constantly shampooed, clipped and led around the barn all year, really was. Had my chosen calf grown into a heifer of substance or was it going to be fast tracked to the livestock auction? The stakes were high and sights were always set on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd place ribbon- that was the only guarantee that my heifer would stay in the barn and it’s first born wouldn’t end up on the dinner table.
The agricultural component of the fall fair is much more than a display of livestock. It’s a time when genetics are judged and the winners will advance to the ultimate in agricultural fairs: The Royal. The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is where a 1st place ribbon means you have a true winner; an animal who’s genetics are a cut above the rest. It’s through competitions like these that superior livestock genetics are identified and Grand Champions crowned. Yep, watching people parade their cows and goats around a ring covered in sawdust may look hokey, but it’s really an important part of agribusiness. Improving livestock herds mean better profits for the farmer and that translates into affordable meat and milk on everyone’s table. So, when you visit your favorite fair this fall, take some time to visit the livestock barns and talk to a farmer or two- they’ll be happy you stopped by!
#1) West Niagara Fall Fair : Thursday September 10th to Sunday September 13th
It’s the new kid on the block. The West Niagara Fair and it’s brand new digs on Mud Street near Grassie Road. Definitely one that you’ll want to get on the list. For directions visit the West Niagara Fairgrounds Map For a list of events including the demolition derby, livestock shows and midway hours see What’s Happening at the Fair
#2) Binbrook Fair: Friday September 18th to Sunday September 20th
Even though the Town of Binbrook is growing with record speed, the Binbrook Fair is still alive and well and ready to celebrate it’s 161st year! With the theme “Sewing Family Traditions”, the Binbrook Agricultural Society is sure to outdo itself again this year. Along with the regular fair competitions, Binbrook is the place where your favorite domestic pet can really shine. Got a cute puppy under 6 months? How about a colorful cat or a frog that you know can jump more than twice- get an entry form in and get them on out to the fair! Two action packed nights of demolition derbies, a fun filled midway plus loads of displays. Mark your calendars- you won’t want to miss this one!
#2) Ancaster Fair : Thursday September 24th to Sunday September 27th
Definitely a favorite. The Ancaster Fair is rich in heritage and offers everything you’d expect in a fall fair. On opening night (Thursday Sept 24th) $25.00 gets you a ticket to ride till closing on the midway. The Demolition Derby runs both Friday and Saturday night and get ready for some cowboy action when the Ontario Xtreme Cowboy race hits the fairgrounds on Saturday, Sept 26th.
#4) Caledonia Fall Fair : Thursday October 1st to Sunday October 4th
Nothing quite matches the Caledonia Fair. The fairgrounds are still where they’ve always been-nestled on the bank of the Grand River, just a short block to the main intersection of downtown Caledonia. During the fair weekend, there’s absolutely no way you can drive through Caledonia and miss it! This year marks the Caledonia Fair’s 143rd anniversary and just like every year before, it’s jam packed with everything you’d expect: a 2 night demolition derby, baby show, pet show, livestock shows, an action packed midway plus all the delicious goodies your appetite can handle!
#5) Rockton World’s Fair : Friday October 9th to Monday October 12th
Close off your fall fair adventures this year at the one and only Rockton World’s Fair! This year the fair celebrates it’s 162nd anniversary! Advance tickets can be purchased at a discount at participating ScotiaBank branches and Thanksgiving Sunday holds a special treat- Family passes to the fair (2 adults & up to 4 children) for only $30 but remember, ride tickets are sold separately: 40 coupons for $40. And talk about contests: pie eating, karaoke, baby, pet, cake decorating, talent and a spelling bee! Round that off with a 3 night demo derby and you’ve got one rocking country fair!