Agricultural fairs, typically linked to the fall harvest, now run in spring and summer in some communities – last weekend in Listowel, for instance – but the season really kicks off in earnest in August. That list includes the Drayton fair, which is set for the weekend of Aug. 10.
Drayton’s theme for 2012 is “knitting and spinning traditions” and the organizers are running a “standard setup” that includes a truck pull, tractor pull and demolition derby as the headliners for each day.
Drayton Fair president Brad Schieck said thousands have attended the main acts in previous years and next month should be no different. Between primary attractions, locals will get a chance to show off the community’s talents through entries for various craft, baking, and livestock competitions.
Visitors can choose between purchasing a day pass or a weekend pass for the entire fair. This year’s craft-oriented theme will engage students in craft making and allow local artisans to show off quilts and afghans popular in their area.
The events will be accessible to all again this time out, as four years ago fair organizers decided to make the fair easier to attend for seniors and those with limited mobility by moving main exhibits to a ground-floor location.
“ I think it’ the best idea the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies has ever had,” said Schieck.
Drayton’s festivities usually begin with the election of a new ambassador on the first day of the event. The association gives one youth a chance to travel across Ontario as a representative of the fairs, other association events and the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). Applicants are normally youths between the ages of 16 and 23 with a healthy roster of local volunteer experience and proof of dedication to agricultural efforts in their communities. This time around, however, the competition has been cancelled due to a second year of low application numbers.
Fair organizers are currently trying to find ways to draw youths in to the competition for next year. However the association will not be taking on an ambassador for the rest of the fair season.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for them and I don’t understand why we struggled so badly,” he said.
Last year’s only willing applicant Jackie Shaw received the title and will continue to represent this year’s fair, ending her position as ambassador after an appearance in late August at the Canadian National Exhibition, Canada’s largest annual community event.
At the local level, the 2012 fair schedule compiled by the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies shows more than 100 fairs are planned from August to mid-October, with locations including Elora (Grand River), Wellesley, Hanover, Palmerston and New Hamburg, among many others.