High temperatures may have limited the presence of some animals at the 187th Napanee Fair over the weekend, but that didn’t stop people from coming through the gates all weekend long.
About 8,500 people passed through the gates and Lennox Agricultural Society president Carol McKinley deemed the event a success.
“It’s been hot, definitely hot. I was a little worried Friday night, I didn’t think there were too many people on the grounds, but it turned out attendance was through the roof. I heard Saturday and Sunday there was a steady flow, so I’m happy with that and, of course, the demolition derby is always the best attendance. It’s fabulous. I don’t know what we’d do without Elsie (Dowdle).”
McKinley said the hot summer did an effect on entries. Some of the small animals the 4-H Clubs usually have on display weren’t on the grounds long because of the heat. The Holstein show was also cancelled. She noted there were fewer flowers entered this year, but more knitting and crocheting — which might be the result of people spending more time inside. The heat and humidity also impacted sales.
“Some of our vendors have done well, there were a lot of pop and water sales,” McKinley said. “Next year, I’d like to see more picnic tables on the grounds and areas where families can go to sit and relax — maybe more bleachers as well — so there’s not a risk of heat stroke or heat exhaustion. We have to be aware of that.”
The midway seemed to really pick up in the evenings, as did some of the special shows. Friday evening, McKinley said she and her husband walked into a full house in the arena to experience Buzz Collins’ only local hypnosis show of the summer. On Saturday, the grandstand was packed with enthusiastic audiences, watching hometown performers give their all on stage for Napanee’s Got Talent, and Sunday evening, a big country music show with Wes Mack and Johnson Crook was a draw.
The World’s Finest Amusements midway itself had a mix of big and small rides with the focal points being a Farris wheel and another big loop, the Fire Ball roller coaster that stops upside down in mid-air. McKinley said the fair was fortunate to attract those rides as they aren’t always a guarantee. The midway is always an attraction, though McKinley said it’s nice to see that many patrons also take the time to look around the grounds.
“Yes, the midway is always a draw but we like them to see other things too. At 187 years, we must be doing something right,” she said. “Agriculture is what we’re all about. There’s a lot of people in this town that don’t know what an actual cow looks like or an actual pig looks like.”
That’s where the Lennox and Addington 4-H clubs come in. At this year’s fair, the movement celebrated 100 years in the county. Participants in the various clubs made educational displays over the course of the year about farming, crafts, and science that were on display for all to see. They also had animal demonstrations and shows and a play area for young children.
At the fair’s opening ceremonies, 4-H director Nan Keyes said “They say everything old is new again” as she said the 4-H barn was being renamed as an educational centre to reflect its focus. She also said a highlight for the club was the return of the swine show, honouring the county’s first club in 1918.
Overall, she indicated members really look forward to fair weekend.
“This weekend is very special for our animal club members as they show in many classes,” she said.
The participation of youth in traditional exhibitions was also recognized again this year with a points system in the home craft section recognizing top contributors based on their number of entries and ribbons earned. Hannah Steele was the champion among children, while Lexi Dunn was the top teen.
Participants of all ages contributed live entertainment with horse shows, tractor pulls, junior ambassador and king and queen competitions, lawnmower racing and the highly-anticipated engine-revving derby.
McKinley said the Lennox Agricultural Society is always fortunate to receive support from the community-at-large and from its dedicated volunteers, in particular. They dedicate a lot of time to offer thrills for others.
“We have our staples and we have some people who come out at fair time and only fair time, but we county on them to be here setting up and tearing down. It’s a big job. We ask the community for help and they come out, it’s great.”
Not long after the crowds have died down, the midway attractions have rolled away, and the awards have been given to the babies, the broccoli, and the baking, those volunteers turn their attention to next year. McKinley said the agricultural society is always looking for new ideas and fresh voices. Those interested in taking part in the tradition can call contact the society at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 613-354-5264.