More than a fair turnout
Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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More than a fair turnout

Stephanie Hergott and Gillian Nagy show off the quilt made from contributions by 44 people in the community.[Will Sloan / The Observer]
Stephanie Hergott and Gillian Nagy show off the quilt made from contributions by 44 people in the community. [Will Sloan / The Observer]
Addressing attendees of the Wellesley-North Easthope Fall Fair on Tuesday night, Waterloo Region Chair Ken Seiling noted that the fair’s 160th anniversary made it nearly as old as the region itself.

“It was a very active farming community that saw the need to get together agriculturally,” said Seiling.

History was present at the venerable end-of-summer gathering, as the Wellesley Community Centre was decorated with vintage photographs, quilts, clothing, and paintings that documented the rich past of both fair and township. This year’s official theme was “160 Years of History – Make It Yours,” and Wellesley and District Horticultural Society president Murray Schlueter noted, “It looks, by the crowd we have here tonight, that there are quite a number of people who plan to make the Wellesley Agricultural Society fair a tradition.”

“One hundred and sixty years is amazing, considering the fact that Canada is only 150 years old in 2017,” said Robert Hargrave, president of the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies.

Generations of Wellesley residents have made the fair a perennial date on their calendars, and several of the local dignitaries who spoke at the opening ceremony described how much the fair meant to them growing up.

“I grew up just outside the fairgrounds,” said Seiling. “Many of my fond memories as a child growing up were going over to the fair, seeing the chickens, seeing the displays. As we grew older, we took vegetables over, and I actually won the baking contest when I was 13 for my cherry pie.”

“About 44 years ago, I was here,” remembered Bob McMillan, deputy Mayor of Perth East. “My mother has a ribbon that says I won a baby contest, apparently.”

“I’ve been an attendee of this fair for about 70 years, so I know pretty well how it works,” said Mayor Ross Kelterborn. “The fair, in my opinion, is a big part of education – education that holds our community together, and it is very important to agriculture and industry.”

Kelterborn took a moment to recount the history of the fair – how, 160 years ago, the event began in a shed in Crosshill where the 29th battalion did drill exercises. In 1880, the early agricultural society first held the fair in the Village of Wellesley on the second Tuesday and Wednesday of September, where it has remained ever since.

Kelterborn praised volunteers from the society for their contributions to the township.

“The agriculture society donated the land in which the fair takes place to the Township of Wellesley,” he said.

Claire Milton, CNE fair ambassador for 2013, congratulated fair organizers for “160 years of the rural and urban coming together, and 160 years of everybody showing true community spirit.”

“Without volunteers, this great country would not be what it is today, and agricultural societies are no different,” said Hargrave. While he noted that many charitable societies struggle to find volunteers, he added that in his travels across Ontario, “the volunteers in agricultural societies are amazing. We are part of the heart of every community across this province.”

The opening night presentation continued with performances from the six semi-finalists for the Wellesley Idol competition, with Makayla Patey, Amy Rola, and Paige Warner advancing to the finals at the Apple Butter & Cheese Festival. Judges also saw the nominees for the ambassador, with 17-year-old Kelsey Bisch winning the crown.

Activities continued on Wednesday, beginning with a horse show and baby show in the morning and continuing with the annual parade in the afternoon. Continuing the historical theme, the parade was led by former agricultural society presidents Erwin Hoffmann (1962-63) and Earl Coxon (1984-85).

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