METCALFE — As summer hurtled toward mid-point, several Eastern Ontario fair organizers aimed for a return to in-person, real-world festivities. The hopeful group included Beachburg (July 23-25), Russell (Aug. 19-22), Riceville (Aug. 27-29), Renfrew (Sept. 9-12) and Metcalfe (Sept. 30-Oct. 3).
The Beachburg Fair opened to include livestock shows with spectators but no midway and attendance was painfully low.
Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies manager Vince Brennan noted that other fairs are preparing for curtailed in-person events — such as livestock shows or demolition derbies — if not a full return to on-site activities.
Organizers of the Stormont County Fair in Newington also indicated in a Facebook post that they continue to “review” the possibility of reviving an in-person demolition derby and beef show. The fair is otherwise slated to be a “low-key” version in 2021.
“I am hearing more and more 4-H shows and things like that still taking place,” Brennan said of the current fair picture in Ontario. He added that member organizations appear to be “planning on doing a little more than they were before.”
Meredith Brophy, a director with the Metcalfe Agricultural Society, described the Society as agreeing to “try” to revive an in-person fair this fall that includes a midway, a decision reached July 13. “We’ll do what we can and the priority in any of our considerations is public safety and safety for our volunteers and workers.”