TORONTO – The annual Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) Ambassador of the Fairs competition is ramping up for its 2019 edition and will see 80 contestants from across Ontario vying for the coveted title, including Gore Bay’s April Torkopoulos who has served as the Providence Bay Fair Ambassador for nearly a year.
“I’m super excited; I can’t wait. I’ve been reading about the CNE and everything with that. It’s huge, they get over 1.5 million visitors,” said April.
April, at age 18, is one of the younger people enrolled in the competition. She said a fair number of the competitors are in their 20s.
“It’s a little bit intimidating but it gives me more motivation to be extra confident and more prepared,” she said.
The CNE is considered an agricultural competition which celebrates Ontario’s farming heritage. Some of the questions posed to contestants are designed to test their knowledge of agriculture and the CNE.
“I’m going to be prepared about agriculture today, on the methods and how we’re doing it. I’m looking up agricultural concerns and solutions that we can think of in order to make it more sustainable for the future,” said April.
“Agriculture is something that people don’t learn about a lot today, especially young people,” she said. “It’s good to have these representatives so we can teach about them and promote these fairs so they can get involved and learn about what the subjects around agriculture are all about.”
All the contestants received an information package including two pages of the CNE’s history.
“I’ve already got that down, so I went on the CNE heritage site and that’s so awesome. I’ve been reviewing it every night and making notes,” said April.
She noted that she found the history of the fair’s use during wartime for military purposes to be a particularly interesting study.
“That site has literally everything from the past, present and even some things they’re thinking about in the future. I’ve been doing lots of research,” she said.
There is also a speech component. April has elected to speak about pride of place and will be talking about the Providence Bay Fair, why it is special to Manitoulin and what it means to her.
“This fair in my home community is the whole reason I get to go and have this opportunity at the CNE. I’ll be talking about people in my community and how they make it special.”
There is an additional component in the marking scheme for ‘poise, personality and overall impression,’ something April said she would address by just being herself. There is a small allowance for each competitor to purchase professional attire to wear to the competition. She will have to leave the official tiara at home—contestants are only permitted to wear their home fair sashes to showcase their hometown triumph.
There are seven semi-finalists which all receive a cash prize and the top three at the end of the competition receive a bit extra. The winner of the glorious ‘Ambassador of the Fairs’ title will hold the position for a year and travel across Ontario to represent both the CNE and all agricultural fairs. April said she would be honoured to take home the title of Ambassador of the Fairs.
“I’d be at the fair until September 2, going around meeting people, kind of like I did at the Providence Bay Fair. I’d help at events and activities and introduce people,” she said.
The CNE Ambassador of the Fairs competition is in its 48th year and has welcomed more than 3,000 contestants from 100 communities around Ontario since it started in 1971. The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the competition on August 18, on the same weekend as the Providence Bay Fair when this year’s ambassador will receive their title.