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Drayton gets the fair season rolling starting next Friday

With tractor pulls, a miniature horse show, and horticultural and livestock exhibits, the Drayton Fair is ready to celebrate the region’s agricultural roots.

“This year’s theme of ‘Tractors Big and Small, Come see them all’ is very fitting for our diverse agricultural municipality where agriculture is still job number one,” Township of Mapleton Mayor Bruce Whale said in a statement.

While the 158th annual event will offer visitors many fall fair staples, including a collection of classic tractors suggested by its tagline, this year there will be no midway rides.

“Last year wasn’t a real good year for us for midway,” organizer Brad Schieck said. “Midways are getting very expensive; they want money up front, with no guarantee on weather. Sometimes it is very hard to get a midway that is going to bring in rides that suit all age groups. So they will bring in too many small kiddie rides, but there is nothing for the older (kids). Or they’ll be more for the older ones, but not enough for the younger ones.”

Instead, kids can enjoy a variety of activities including face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides and bouncy castles, Schieck said.

Kids 12 and under get into the fair for free while adult tickets have been cut to $5 on Saturday between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. to “help make it more affordable for families to bring out the kids,” organizer Natalie Green said.

The action kicks off on August 8 at 6:30 p.m. with the local truck and tractor pull (gates open at 5 p.m.).

The competition features gas and diesel pickups as well as tractors up to 32,000 pounds displaying raw power and torque.

A second truck and tractor pull will go on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. This time it’s an officially sanctioned contest by the Ontario Truck and Tractor Pulling Association.

One of the weekend’s most popular events, the demolition derby, will take place on Sunday at 2 p.m.

“It’s a warped sense of entertainment,” Schieck said with a chuckle. “It’s a bunch of guys in a 60-by-80 ring and they smash the crap out of each other, for lack of a better word, and the last one running and moving is the winner.”

It’s an exciting show, he said, with one important rule: no hitting the driver side door.

Otherwise, it’s a free-for-all with a $1,500 prize for the victor.

The Drayton Fair runs August 8-10. Tickets are $10 for adults ($5 on Saturday between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.) and free for children under 12. Family of four  passes are $25, and weekend tickets are $25 per adult. For more information visit www.draytonfair.com.

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