In praise of the Napanee Fair

It’s a truism to say that communities change over time. People come and go, and landscapes are forever altered. However, there are also constants that make communities what they are and give them identity, regardless of what changes may come. One of those constants in this area is the Napanee Fair.

It’s been hosted by the Lennox Agricultural Society for 186 years, so they must be doing something right. And although over those 186 years, the fair itself has changed dramatically — we can’t imagine what the first fair organizers would think of the ‘Alien Abduction’ midway ride, the lawnmower races or the demolition derby — it has never lost its connection to this area’s agricultural roots. It’s still the backbone of the event, and that’s what makes it special.

Those who aren’t exposed to farm life on a daily basis — and let’s face it, there are more of those people now than ever before — get a chance to see where their food comes from. Not really sure where eggs come from? You can watch an egg roll out of a mobile chicken coop right before your eyes. Never petted a cow before? The 4-H petting zoo has you covered — and they’ve got pigs, goats and ponies, if you’re interested. We’ve all seen plenty of horses on television, but how often do we get a chance to see horses in action right before our eyes, live and in real time? It’d be something those first fairgoers would certainly take for granted, but for we modern, non-farming folk, it’s a spectacle. Heck, they can even make a box full of corn fun at the fair.

Although the fair aims to entertain — and it does that successfully — it’s also an education for those children (and maybe more than a few adults) about what goes into agriculture and food production. The fair also reinforces the agricultural character of Napanee and the surrounding area.

The Napanee Fair will undoubtedly change in the future, just as it has adapted over the years up to this point. That’s OK, as times and tastes change. What we hope will never change, however, is the fair’s continual and constant emphasis on farming and agriculture. That role will undoubtedly become more and more important as the years roll by.

Perhaps as much or more so than any other event in this community, the Napanee Fair is also a testament to tireless work of volunteers. It takes an army of them to make the four-day event happen — and we’re willing to bet they’ll be happy for as many new recruits as they can find. Those volunteers deserve kudos for yet another edition of the Napanee Fair, and we’re looking forward to what they have in store for 2018.

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