Fall fair follows famous footsteps

The Royal Affair themed fall fair follows a rich history of community fairs.

David Lang

Special to the Gazette

When the annual Mount Waddington Fall Fair, A Royal Affair, opens at Port Hardy Civic Centre Sept. 8-9, it will be following in the footsteps of a rich and varied history.

Fall Fairs, Autumn Fairs, Michaelmas Fairs — and that’s only for this season of the year.  Fairs are held in many parts of the world and have been going since at least the time of the Romans. In the Middle Ages they were important as occasions for trade and the larger ones were very important in international trade, especially in Europe.

Some  fairs became so large and crowded that ‘disturbances’ were commonplace and this led to their being permitted only by the recipients of a Royal Charter. So fairs then were Royal Affairs!

And in this Jubilee year following the long tradition of fairs we are proudly nominating our Fall Fair as a Royal Affair.

“Mop” fairs like the one still held in the streets of Shakespeare’s Stratford on Avon at Michaelmas were occasions for trade and the hiring of agricultural workers, especially shepherds, for the coming year. They continued in this vein well into the 19th century accompanied by boisterous fun. Nowadays most fairs provide their visitors with competitions for prizes, displays of goods for trade and funfair entertainment or amusements. In some, the funfair has gradually taken over the whole show.

But while the majority of fairs nowadays are connected to agricultural/horticultural products for competition some are purely trade fairs– autos, electronics, books, etc.

The oldest Canadian agricultural fair was established in Toronto in 1879 and became the Canadian National Exhibition in 1912. So this is their Centennial Year! The fair covers 192 acres on the shores of Lake Ontario and is open for 17 days. Closer to home, the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, which was founded in 1910, also lasts 17 days and is now in progress.

In our Fall Fair this year you can compete in any or all of 500 classes of exhibit! And there are separate competitions for children up to 12, teenagers, adults and seniors. Exhibit entries can be submitted Thursday Sept. 6 between 6-9 p.m. or on Friday Sept. 7 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. (firm). The entry fee is 25 cents per entry. But please come early if you are entering more than 20 items. There is an extensive program of entertainment: singers and bands, dancers, magic show, dog show, Karate demonstration and more.

Fair admission is $2 for adults , $1 for children (under 6, free); family passes are $6 and seniors by donation.

Come, enjoy, and jubilate!