Agricultural Fairs: Fellowship, Fun and Farming
This is the time of year, we begin to anticipate the changing of the season. The days are getting a little shorter and the first signs of leaves changing colour will soon be spotted. This is also about the time of year that you will notice that Fall Fair season is once again here.
Local fairs are a part of our culture. Many fairs in Ontario were even founded before Confederation, such as the Williamstown Fair in the eastern part of the province, which began in 1808.
Today, there are over 200 agricultural fairs taking place in Ontario every year, running from May to October. The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (OAAS) is the umbrella organization for Ontario’s local agricultural societies, which organize local fairs each year. The mission of the OAAS is to assist local ag societies by “providing leadership through communication and education, and encouraging the promotion of a rural way of life.”
Arguably, the most important part of fairs today is the opportunity to display rural life: Livestock competitions, field crop competitions, garden produce—not to mention all the delicious fresh baked or preserved foods competing for first place.
All that we see at fall fairs tell us where our food comes from. We can see what is grown locally, produced by people who live not so far from their non-farming neighbours. And, of course, you don’t have to own a farm in order to grow your own food. Every community member has an opportunity to share their talents, from food to arts and crafts.
When we ask our grandchildren if they would like to come to any fair, we know the answer before we ask. Lots of food, candy, popcorn—you name it—and true entertainment like tractor or horse pulls or even demolition derbies, are all part of the fun.
Every fair you go to, you are likely to meet someone, whether an old friend or new. Many fairs also host community-wide worship services, which offer opportunities to build fellowship across denominations. Yes, fall fairs bring communities together.
During this year’s fair season, we hope the events that local organizers work so hard on will be well attended and that everyone who comes will learn a little more about agriculture.
Simon de Boer is a Director for the Executive Board of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, and CKNX Wingham.