Monday, 23 July 2007

First of the Fall Fairs! - Listowel Fair

It's the middle of July, practically! However the first town fair that I know of - usually they are fall fairs - was held this past weekend in Listowel. After we shopped at the Stratford Market, we headed north to Listowel. We had a little picnic in the local park first so as to avoid succumbing to overpriced fair food. It felt very much like a typical fall fair, although the main animals were dairy cows - the theme of the fair was "Dairy Daze" - and horses, and there wasn't any produce on display. It was a beautiful day, not hot and with a cool breeze that helped that fall-fair feeling.

Alas, I didn't get a picture of the handsome brick building that houses the indoor exhibits. However, we went in...

... and were greeted by this exuberent display of flower arrangements. As usual, not being there on the first day meant that if you looked closely they were starting to look a little tired, but the overall effect was impressive none-the-less.

A typical feature of fall fairs is artwork from the local schools. Here is a whole herd of Holstein cows, as depicted by a grade 1 class. Moooooo!

Okay, now we're getting to the good stuff! Food! An array of (mostly) baked goods displayed on classic screened stands.

Mm, mm. Where do you sign up to be a judge?

My own particular interest - the home canning section.

We left the main display building and headed outside. We could see there was some action off to the left, but we decided to head straight down the midway for starters.

I just love walking down the midway. It's so colourful and tacky. Just don't ask me to part with my money.

It was just past noon and things weren't really flying yet, although a few people were riding the ferris wheel. I have to say, if I had gone on any, that would have been the one.

At the end of the midway there is a large set of stands, where we could watch some percherons being judged. I love those big, furry feet!

Lining up for the ribbons. We particularly liked the one at the end, that came in last. It was charmingly gangly. It was also rather nervous and jumpy, and I suspect the things we liked about it were exactly why it didn't do well.

The biggest food line up was at a utilitarian little hut behind the stands. This was the fairs own food seller. It was pretty standard hot dogs and hamburgers, by the looks of things, but at least half the price of the midway food, which didn't look great either. The scent in the air gave new meaning to the phrase "ancient grease". I loved it, actually. I just wouldn't want to eat it.

A large and impressive display of "vintage" tractors.

The boys just can't resist the toys.

Although there was a tent full of childrens' activities that was very popular too.

I think this might have been the highlight of the fair! Learn to milk on a mechanical cow! It was a big hit, and we all had to try it too. How realistic was it? I dunno, now I need to find out...!

Next we watched some calves being exhibited by very young entrants. This would have been their first time showing an animal at the fair, and many of them were young enough to

be accompanied by a parent. Most of the calves thought they had better things to do than march around a ring on a

sunny summer afternoon, and a number of tugs of war took

place. This one is supposed to be facing the other way.

Most Holsteins are black and white, but occasionally you

get one that is red and white. This is the only red and white

calf that was in the ring. No ribbons were awarded to these young contestants, but next year they will be in the running for ribbons and prizes.

Here's where the would-be beauty queens rested up and were groomed. Almost all the cows were Holsteins, but there were a few Jerseys.

And three of a kind I had never seen before. I was told they were Dairy Short-horn cows. Very pretty!

It's been a while since I've seen such squeaky-clean cows - probably at the last fair I went to.

We strolled back up through the vintage tractors. Some pretty old tractors there; and they all seemed to still be in good working order.

Back at the main stands they were now judging 4-horse teams with wagons. They were quite exciting to watch: round and round they went, then started in on figure eights. Finally, they were weaving in and out most spectacularly.

They kicked up quite a lot of dust, even though a truck had gone through and sprinkled the track first.

At this point we decided we had seen pretty much everything, and having gotten up and going pretty early in the morning were starting to fade. We had a nice drive back home through the beautiful green countryside.

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