MINDEMOYA – Scores of people attended this year’s Central Manitoulin Public School (CMPS) Fall Fair, celebrating 107 years and relishing its title as the last-remaining agricultural school fair in the province.
“This year, our (exhibit) entries were up. I’m very pleased because we were working very hard to generate interest in the fair. All that hard work has paid off,” said fair committee member and CMPS teacher Ellen Ferguson, who played a significant role in getting the event together.
“It’s really become a community tradition in every way,” said CMPS principal David Wiwchar. “We’re grateful for all the help of so many people to help make it happen.”
The fair began in 1912 and has since been named an honourary member of the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies. Every year on the second Monday and Tuesday of September, the students and staff of CMPS invite the public to peruse some of the best work created by their students which they have entered into one of more than 100 categories.
There are also 11 categories reserved for ‘friends of the fair,’ which includes teachers, parents, alumni, volunteers and community members. Ms. Ferguson said that although no students are required to enter their creations and each is done on a voluntary basis, the number of entrants this year was extremely high—nearly every one of the categories saw an entry.
Monday evening features a social gathering and the dog show. The next morning is when the parade and exhibit hall go on offer, followed by the fall feast at the school during the lunch hour.
During the feast it was impossible to scan around the room and not find a beaming smile, whether it was borne upon the face of a child enjoying some tasty treats, a parent offering supervision or a teacher helping to ensure the buffet table was well-stocked.
“It brings our community together,” said Ms. Ferguson. “We’re really lucky to have the fair.”
The CMPS Fall Fair was a walk down memory lane for some community members, such as Long Bay’s Darlene Orford who recalled when the schools in Mills, Grimesthorpe, Perivale and Spring Bay came together for a school fair when she was attending them in the 1940s. She helped out as a judge for this year’s CMPS Fall Fair.
“I hope the kids can see that it doesn’t matter if you get first place or not; what matters is that you took part,” said Ms. Orford.
The feast came with the soundtrack of The Islanders, a four-piece band playing classic country tunes. As the children finished eating, they could not help but begin swaying and whirling to the music.
Ms. Ferguson added that the fair, in addition to offering family-friendly fun and fabulous festivities, allows children to express their natural talents in numerous forms.
“Kids get to share their abilities in different ways. It’s not just the usual sports, which are still important, but also agriculture and the arts,” she said.
Those who entered exhibits were also physically rewarded for their efforts. All first-place finishes netted the students $1.75 and six points. In the beginner to Grade 3 division and Grade 4 to Grade 8 division, one boy and girl with the highest and second-highest number of points received a cash prize, with the four top-place finishers also receiving an inscribed plaque.
Mr. Wiwchar said the fair serves as an important tool by which to show the students where their food comes from and to better appreciate how valuable it is. He invited the students to pause and reflect on this as they ate.
Due to morning rains, organizers had to cancel this year’s parade. This came as a disappointment to many who had been eagerly anticipating its arrival but Mr. Wiwchar and Ms. Ferguson both expressed hope that it would be rescheduled for later in the year, with plans coming together for a make-up date closer to Thanksgiving. No date has been finalized as of press time.