After months of planning, the 167th Bayfield Community Fair held on Aug. 18-20 has now come and gone. The bleachers are empty, the grounds have been returned to pre-fair condition, the arena has been swept clean, and all of the Fair equipment has been stowed away for another year. But memories of the 2023 Bayfield Fair will linger for some time to come.
It would be impossible to select only one highlight of the Fair from among so many. There are numerous memorable moments about the Fair events, activities, and demonstrations, not to mention the smiles and great conversations with visitors in the arena and on the fairgrounds. This article briefly summarizes the highlights of this year’s Fair – in no particular order of importance.
The Bayfield Fair opened on Friday, Aug. 18 under clearing skies following high winds and torrential rains that occurred the night before. A well-attended Fish Fry dinner was held at the fairgrounds followed by the opening ceremony. Bayfield Agricultural Society President Vicky Culbert and Homecraft President Pamela Stanley welcomed everyone to the 167th Bayfield Fair. Dignitaries on hand for the opening ceremony included Bill Strong representing Ben Lobb MP, Municipality of Bluewater Mayor Paul Klopp, Municipality of Central Huron Mayor Jim Ginn, and Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (OAAS) District 8 Secretary Treasurer Janet Cameron. OAAS Provincial Director Jentje Steenbeek read greetings from Lisa Thompson MPP and also brought greetings on behalf of the OAAS. The guest speaker for the evening was Lauren Bos, who spoke about 4-H, junior farmers, and entrepreneurship.
The evening was capped off by a fabulous fireworks display. For anyone who may have missed the fireworks, here’s a link to the video: Bayfield Fair Opening Fireworks
After a three-year absence, a full Bayfield Community Fair Parade returned on Saturday, Aug. 19 with great fanfare! Local businesses, marching bands, pipe and drum bands, Shriners Roadrunners, dignitaries, fire trucks, vintage vehicles, kids on bikes, and more were well represented in the parade. The appreciative crowds that lined the streets cheered them all on!
The homecraft displays in the arena were beyond awe-inspiring. The exhibits of handcrafted quilts, knitting, crocheting, flower and plants, farm products, vegetables, culinary arts, woodworking, art, photography, and youth class showcased the high level of talent in this community. It was apparent that the number of exhibit entries were up over last year’s Fair, and it was heartening to see the large number of entries from young people.
For the second year in a row, the Bayfield Fair hosted a Poultry Show that featured poultry, waterfowl, turkeys, pigeons, and rabbits. The Bayfield Fair is now one of only two fairs in Huron County with a poultry show, so this was a rare opportunity for fairgoers to see so many different breeds including a number of heritage breeds. Judging from the number of visitors to the Poultry Show, it was a very popular stop at the Fair.
There were more presentations and demonstrations woven into the Fair events this year. In the arena, the Penhale Landau made a special appearance with a place of prominence where visitors could view it from all angles. In addition to the textile weaving and rug braiding demonstrations, special presentations included an informative flower arranging session and another on how to plant a pollinator garden. Outside on the fairgrounds, two students from Central Huron Secondary School in Clinton wowed everyone with a robotics demonstration on both Saturday and Sunday of the Fair. The Bayfield International Croquet Club provided a croquet demonstration on Sunday afternoon and invited interested spectators to participate. Greenacre Dog Agility & Training put on a well-attended demonstration at the Fair on Sunday afternoon. Special music presentations at the Fair included children’s entertainer Erick Traplin, the Bayfield Ukulele Society, and the Rock Revival tribute bands Zed and Southern Fried as part of the Saturday night entertainment.
The 4-H Dairy Achievement and Sheep Clubs competition on Saturday, Aug. 19 drew a lot of interest from visitors to the Fair. The bleachers were packed for the fast-paced Friesian Horse Show on Saturday. Making a return to the Fair this year on Sunday, Aug. 20 was the Heavy Horse Show, which had to be cancelled last year due to inclement weather. And the Heavy Horses didn’t disappoint the large crowd that turned out to watch the competition!
Fair organizers made a decision this year to focus on family fun and agricultural roots without a midway. In lieu of a midway for children, age-appropriate inflatables were offered along with activities, such as a fish pond, a Lego station, and a variety of lawn games. Judging from the children’s smiles and the positive feedback from parents on how much more affordable this option was for families than the midway costs of previous years, the change proved to be a success. Fair organizers will build on this knowledge in the planning process for next year’s Fair.
This article would be incomplete without acknowledging the efforts of all the community volunteers who came forward and offered their time to help with the smooth running of the Fair, from setup before the Fair, through the Fair opening days, to our take down day on Monday, Aug. 21. Their help was invaluable and so greatly appreciated.
Planning for next year’s Fair begins almost as soon as the last piece of equipment is stored away from this year’s Fair. Anyone who would like to be a part of the planning or a volunteer to help out with next year’s Fair is asked to contact email@example.com.