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Thursday, August 22, 2019

"Let's go to The Ex, Norfolk County Fair & Horse Show and other fairs

   One-Tank Trip for Aug. 17/19
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Many fairs are almost as old as Canada – some even older – dating back to the 250-year-old Hants County Exhibition in Windsor, Nova Scotia.
   It holds the title as the oldest continuously run fall fair in North America and remains true to its roots in promoting agricultural awareness.
   They harken back to the 1700s in Britain, meshing the agricultural improvement society with the traditional trade fair and carnival.
   Canada’s first society was formed in 1765 in Nova Scotia while Ontario’s began in 1792 in Niagara-on-the Lake.
The Midway at the Ex is always a popular and packed place. (Jim Fox photo)
   Perhaps one of the most-recognized, along with the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, is the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) founded in 1879.
   It’s on now until Sept. 2 at Exhibition Place along Toronto’s Lake Ontario waterfront and has had many nicknames in its 140 years.
   This started as the Toronto Industrial Fair and Exposition, the “Grand Old Lady by the Lake,” the CNE, The Exhibition and more recently “The Ex” with the slogan “Let’s go to The Ex.”

   The “grand lady” is putting on a new face to keep current with a blockbuster program that blends the new and nostalgic.
   “There’s a Woodstock weekend and classic car rally, the bandshell concerts and Legends of the Silk Road Lantern Festival,” said Tran Nguyen of the CNE Media Relations.
A New Orleans-style Mardi Gras’ parade pops up at the Ex. (Barbara Fox photo)
    Over its 18-day run, the Ex has an obstacle race, National Geographic’s 50 Greatest Photographs exhibit, a comedy night, Fan Expo Cosplay parade of costumed characters and showcase of celebrity cars.
   These include the DeLorean (Back to the Future), KITT (Knight Rider) and the General Lee (Dukes of Hazzard).

   Far out
   In a throwback to groovier times, the Ex marks the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival with a band recreating the “amazing music and historic performances.”
The Woodstock 50th anniversary band will perform at the Ex
   It’s also the 70th anniversary of the Canadian International Air Show and there’s a $500,000 minimum in the CNE Foundation raffle.
   The Gaming Garage from AMD returns with more consoles and video games, a rock band stage and video game dance floor.
   The Bandshell concerts include Canadian music icons Burton Cummings, Jann Arden, Buffy Sainte-Marie, along with Johnny Orlando, Walk off the Earth, A Tribe Called Red and Boystory.
   Added food offerings are a “value menu” at the bandshell with items $6 or less.
A poster for the 1884 Industrial Fair and Exposition, now known as the CNE.
   There’s also the East Coast Kitchen Party, Food Truck Frenzy, Craft Beer Fest and Oktoberfest.
   Admission ranges from $16 to $19.99 along with numerous specials. theex.com 

   Oldie but a goodie
   Step aside you whippersnapper CNE, as the Norfolk County Fair & Horse Show in Simcoe has been going strong for 179 years.
   Monstrous-sized veggies are always a hit at the Norfolk County Fair. (Jim Fox photo)
    Founded in 1840, it has a “long history of promoting awareness of agriculture and improving the quality of life for the people of southwestern Ontario.”
   This year’s show from Oct. 8 to 14 features Canadian country’s High Valley on Oct. 11 and Gord Bamford, Oct. 12, said publicist Wendy Brick.
   There is also the “Party on the Track” for the grandstand shows and the Harvest Beer & Wine Festival.
   The Harvest Dinner VIP event includes the concert “Celebration of 60 Years of Motown with the Miracles.” norfolkcountyfair.com

    Other notable long-timers
   - Western Fair in London, founded in 1868, from Sept. 6 to 15; the Elmvale Fall Fair, circa 1860, Oct. 12 to 14; and near Brantford are the Paris Fair, circa 1858, Aug. 29 to Sept. 2, and the Burford Fair, 1860, Oct. 11 to 14.

Commentary from a reader and retired director of the Embro & Zorra Agricultural Society:

Thank you for your recent article about the fairs.  Your opening line, "Many fairs are almost as old as Canada", caught my eye, as I know that it could actually be worded in reverse.  Canada is almost as old as many local fairs.

There are many more local-to-London Agricultural Societies, members of the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies, with the same mandate of promoting agricultural awareness, maintaining standards of agricultural production, and supporting and enhancing rural living.  Many of these Agricultural Societies have fairs as their signature events, but are active in their communities throughout the year. I have just retired as a director of the Embro & Zorra Agricultural Society (circa 1857), which has presented an annual Dinner Theatre in February-March for almost thirty years, manages the canteen in a local arena, takes a Farm Safety day to local schools annually, supports an Ambassador, and more. 

Also close by you will find:
Dorchester, Kirkton, Thorndale, Glencoe, Tavistock, Drumbo, Stratford, Tillsonburg, Woodstock, Ilderton, Wellesley, and more, Agricultural Societies, all with fall fairs. We welcome our friends to join us at our fairs, and also to check our websites for events through the year, all one-tank trips!

Katherine Grieve


   Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
   For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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