The Kincardine Fall Fair is Getting Back in the Saddle

Pattern Canada Stories

Written By: Pattern Stories

A long-standing tradition is gearing up for a big return this fall.

Planning for the Kincardine Fall Fair is well underway, and organizers are excited to bring it back for another year.

“The Kincardine Agricultural Society has been around for the past 171 years. It has a very long history here in our area, and in Ontario. Yearly, we hold our main event—the Fall Fair—on Labour Day weekend,” says Shirley Hartwick, Canvassing Coordinator for the Kincardine Agricultural Society.

Turning the Page on Virtual Fairs

While in-person fairs have been the norm for most of its history, the past two years have been quite different.

“We pivoted to a virtual fair the past two years. We hired a local videographer and had him do a video series about a few local farmers, producers, and artisans. We also had a local chef teach some recipes using local ingredients. All the videos were on our social media, and we did a few contests throughout the year,” Shirley says.

Plans for this year are looking good, and the goal of the Fall Fair remains the same.

A past entry into the Kincardine Fall Fair Parade.

An Exciting Return to Normal

“Our mission is to try to create awareness during the fair by showing people a day in the life of a farmer,” Shirley explains.

Many of the activities at the annual event are rooted in agriculture, from beef, dairy, and poultry shows, to competitions for 4-H, home crafters, vegetable growers, and flower growers. But the Agricultural Society is open to bringing some new features.

“At this point, we’re thinking the fair will be similar to how it’s been done before, but we’re still in the planning stages.e want to bring some things that have been left in the past, like the horse show. We normally do a dance on Saturday night, but we’re thinking about doing it before the fair instead,” she says.

Local singers and performers may want to brush up on their skills as well.

“Another thing we hope to add this year is a talent show—Kincardine’s Got Talent or Kincardine Idol,” she says.

Past entries in the Vegetable Competition.

Deep Roots

The two-day fair usually sees between 2,000 and  3,000 visitors annually, with dozens of volunteers working hard to pull it off.

Popular for 171 years, the fair has a deep and rich history in the area.

“From what I can tell, the Agricultural Society was incorporated in 1851. But I believe the following year was the first year for the fair. The location has moved a lot over the years and it started on a Friday back then because they wanted the school kids to participate in the parade. It has a good history in Kincardine,” Shirley says.

“From what I can tell, the Agricultural Society was incorporated in 1851. But I believe the following year was the first year for the fair. The location has moved a lot over the years and it started on a Friday back then because they wanted the school kids to participate in the parade. It has a good history in Kincardine,” Shirley says.

The main goal of the fair hasn’t changed though—showcasing what farmers do.

“The competitions would have been the core of the fair, the farmers would bring all the things they’ve grown and raised. They also would have had crop competitions and entertainment as well,” explains Shirley.

Cattle Show at the Kincardine Fall Fair, 1950s.

Planning for Competition

To get everyone ready for the competitions this year, participants are told ahead of time what divisions they can submit entries to.

“We try to get our Fall Fair Book out early every year so anyone who wants to participate in the flower competition or the vegetable competition knows what we’re looking at in terms of entries for the fair. That way they can grow a specific type of vegetable or flower. We do junior versions of these competitions as well,” Shirley says.

As the community works to welcome back the fair, the Kincardine Agricultural Society has released the theme for this year.

“Our theme for this year is Back in the Saddle. We try to incorporate the theme into our competitions and prizes,” says Shirley.

Harness Racing at Connaught Park, date unknown.
Poster for this year’s fall fair.

Bridging the Gap

While the fair is only two days long, Shirley says its impact on the community lasts a long time.

“I think bringing everyone together to participate in one last thing before the summer ends is really important. But the main goal is to bridge the gap between the rural and urban communities. We’re a really diverse community now. There are a lot of bigger farms now with a more urban town atmosphere, so we really want to bring everyone together to see what agriculture is all about,” she says.Learn more about the Kincardine Fall Fair by visiting their Facebook page.

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