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No need to wait for fall, as Drayton gets the fair season rolling next weekend

A staple of the Drayton Fair, participants showed off their sheep at the last year’s event.
A staple of the Drayton Fair, participants showed off their sheep at the last year’s event. [File Photo]
A staple of the Drayton Fair, participants showed off their sheep at the last year’s event.
A staple of the Drayton Fair, participants showed off their sheep at the last year’s event. [File Photo]
A local tradition that predates Confederation, the Drayton Fair returns next weekend for its 161st year.

In keeping with recent trends, it will feature more participatory events along with traditional crowd favorites such as the truck and tractor pull and the demolition derby.

“We have a lot to do and see, hands-on experiences –  it’s just a great family event, a great weekend.” says Amy Hennessy, secretary of the Drayton Mapleton Agricultural Society.

“Lots of tractors – that’s our main pull; there are the tractor pulls and truck pulls.”

Vehicles are in fact something of a mainstay at the fair. Anyone can register to join the local tractor and truck competitions, as well as the demolition derby – though of course you’ll have to supply your own vehicle to demolish.

For those without an appropriate vehicle, the fair will also be offering monster truck rides for all, while the popular excavator games will be making a return this year.

“It’s a little fun for the ‘big kids,’” explains Brad Schieck, past-president and acting director of the fair, about the excavator games. “Because for years the fair has always been revolved around kids and rides and one thing and another, and the parents just stand kind of by the sideline and watch. But this is something that male and/or female – this is not just for guys, if the girls want to sign up, put their $20 on the table, they got a shot of this in the seat – they can have a turn too and it’s all out of fun.”

There are also a plethora of exhibits and contest where people can see the best of the best in the community, including an antique tractor display, a baby contest (where every baby is a winner), and a host of animal and horticultural contests.

The animal shows in particular have been growing rapidly in popularity recently, said Schieck. There will be a heavy-horse show, where a group of four horses are hitched to a wagon and line classes where the horses are shown with a halter.

There will also be competitions for goats, sheep, dairy and beef kettle for both showmanship and confirmation classes. A lot of the participants for these competitions are 4-H members, says Schieck, noting that by supporting the fair, the 4-H Club in turn is supported by proceeds from the fair.

If live critters are too much to handle, enterprising horticulturalists will also have the fruits of their labours on display at the roots and vegetables contests, while the community’s skills in the arts and crafts will also be appraised by judges and spectators.

Schieck has been with the fair for a long time now, serving as president for five years in total, though his involvement has been closer to 30 years. And while many small-town traditions have faltered over the years, Schieck said he believes the future of the Drayton fair is bright.

“I feel really good, I really do,” he says. “We’ve been very, very fortunate that we’ve had awesome weather every year, which really helps out for getting the people out, but I personally feel that we’re going to be around for a long time yet.”

Can we expect the Drayton Fair to stick around for another 160 years, though?

“I’d like to say so, but I won’t be,” Schiek laughed.

Admissions for adults are $10 per entry ($15 after 5 p.m.) or $30 for the weekend. Children ages 6 to 12 pay $5 for the entire weekend, while the under sixes go for free. The gates to the fair will open at 5 p.m. on Friday, August 11, and 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The weekend after, August 18-20, the Drayton Fairgrounds are holding the 46th annual “Campin’ and Jammin’ in the Park!”

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