Traditions are integrated into many family activities. The “fair” tradition has been a part of many communities throughout Ontario for as long as Canada has been a nation and many years longer. One of the local fairs –the Bayfield Community Fair on August 18 – 20 has been part of the region for 161 years and continues to provide a venue for competition, entertainment, and a social gathering point with its theme this year “Remembering Canadian Country Dreams.”
It continues a long history of competition in art, photography, culinary arts, vegetables, fruit, children’s classes, field crops, handwork, and woodwork. There is still judging of sheep, dairy calves, and horses. There are always places to buy food but possibly not on the doctor’s list. New forms of entertainment bring out the fairgoers who want to see what is new and new competitions bring out the curious.
This year the Bayfield Fair continues its favourite farmyard pet display. The old and young can’t resist the look of a young lamb or the crowing of a rooster or the curiosity of a kitten. There is no resistance from any age about climbing into the cab of a modern tractor and dreaming about taking it for a drive. The midway attracts the young to its rides, and games, and food. Midways are making their last appearances in the smaller communities as insurance rates and fuel costs make it challenging to continue. The youngsters also get to ride a small train around the grounds and imagine what the dreams were when tracks were first laid in this area.
The opening night of the fair begins with the aroma of ribs wafting through the gates when they open at 4:30. After purchasing a meal of ribs, people can relax listening to a young band “The Odd Soul Collective” which received rave reviews the previous year. There will be refreshments available to accompany the ribs. Hot air balloon rides will be available thanks to Re/Max Reliable Realty Inc. A Dignitary Challenge will follow the opening and Lisa Thompson MPP was disappointed that she could not defend her title from last year. Many young people will be sharing their talents at the Rise2Fame competition with winners going on to perform at the Western Fair in London. The evening concludes with a fireworks presentation.
On Saturday a Western horse show begins in the morning. The parade will wind along the main street and behind the fairgrounds. This year there will be lots of flags flying as Bayfield will be celebrating Canada’s 150. A quilt car will drive along the route. Two buskers will be performing at the fair and they will also be slipping out to various locations within the village. The 4-H shows provide the young people with a chance to show how well they are able to present their animal and their training is very evident. A discovery tent will engage all who enter into learning about reptiles in Huron County. In the arena the kids get to enjoy the wiggle cars and the wheat box as well as face painting and ballooning. The Friesian horses will be showing off their beauty and conformation to an appreciative crowd. A dunk tank will test the accuracy of anyone wanting to dunk the volunteer. The children get to test their endurance and strength as they compete in the mini-tractor pull. The event that may attract the most cheering is the pig demonstrations. There will likely be some geese or chickens and possibly sheep also part of the demonstration. The evening comes to a close with the Carnival Music Festival featuring Boy in December, The Blacklist Social, and I Mother Earth.
The miniature horses begin the Sunday program. The Community Church Service is held with the sound of bleating and crowing in the background. It usually ends just when the heavy horses start to appear in the main show ring. Fiddles and piano music can be heard from the auditorium as the jamboree settles into its afternoon. Some of the young winners from the Rise2Fame will perform with perhaps their first non-competitive audience. The adopt-a-pet rescue will be having some cats and dogs which need permanent homes and people can learn how they can provide a home. The final competition for the fair will be a watermelon challenge for five teams. It is a new way to handle watermelons.
There are over 220 fairs in Ontario and the Bayfield fair is just one which continues to have Canadian country dreams and promotes a rural way of life. It is all set for the community to keep the family traditions of exhibiting, competing, sampling food, meeting friends, and enjoying entertainment. Make it a tradition by being there.