Spencerville Fair
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Spencerville Fair History


Information provided by:
The Grenville Historical Society, Prescott Journal and The Recorder and Times.

1854 Leeds and Grenville County Council passes a resolution granting the founding of our agricultural societies within the two counties. The Township of Edwardsburg Agricultural Society is formed.

 

1855 The first fair is held on the south side of the Nation River on property settled by David Spencer.

 

1856 The fair moves to the Town Plot which was donated to the Society by Mrs. Marcy Fairbairn, daughter of David Spencer.

 

1859 The fourth annual show is held on the Town Plot on Tuesday, October 11th. Admission to the fair for non-members is 10 cents. Members may enter any of the 10 classes available - Horses, Cattle, Sheep, Hogs, Grain, Potatoes, Roots, Butter and Cheese, Seeds, and Carriages. Prize money totals $128.50

 

1862 Admission is raised to 12 ½ cents for the October 14th fair. Two additional classes are introduced – Boots and Shoes, and Ladies Department.

 

1867 The Township of Edwardsburg Agricultural Society, in its annual report to the province, numbers its membership at 83, paying a total subscription of $148.59. Admission receipts to the grounds total $23.53. The year 1867 is profitable for the Society, reporting a substantial $630.40 in income, with $342.28 being provincial grant money. The balance left in the coffers is a nominal $14.82.

 

1873 For several years, the members of the board had petitioned the counties council for a grant. In 1873, the United Counties of Leeds & Grenville grant the Society the sum of $100.

 

1877 - 1878

A delegation from Toronto visits the fair to study the handling of exhibits and the allotting of prize money. This results in the founding of Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition in 1879.

 

1884 The fair is held as a two-day event in October. The second day is dedicated to games and sports. Admission is increased to 15 cents.

 

1888 A major shuffle in the directorship of fair occurs. George Martin is elected President.

 

1890 On October 30th, the secretary is authorized to lease ground adjoining the Town Hall from the trustees of the Spencerville and Ventnor Presbyterian Churches for $15 for 10 years. Thomas Bennett also rents a piece of land to the Society for $50, used for the construction of the race track.

 

1891 A fence is built around the race track. Gate receipts increase to $500 with the introduction of horse racing at the fair.

1892 Fancy. Work, Vegetables, Apples and Flowers are exhibited in the Town Hall. Cattle are tied to posts inside the track and pens are set up for sheep. Dinner at the hotel is 25 cents per person.

 

1894 Ayrshire and Jersey cattle become separate categories. The races are postponed until Tuesday, October 16 th, because of weather.

 

1897 The prize list drops its poster format, becoming a booklet which costs one cent to mail to members. Entries are opened to residents outside of Edwardsburgh Township.

1908 The fair’s first grandstand is purchased from the community of Iroquois. Ralph Burchel of Hainsville is contracted to move it to Spencerville. It is dismantled, hauled to Spencerville by horses and wagons, and then reassembled.

 

1909 The fair is held Tuesday, September 28 and Wednesday, September 29. Special attractions are held in the show ring opposite the grandstand. Music is provided by the Spencerville Band in the Town Hall.

Rates on the Canadian Pacific Railway are reduced for those going to the fair by train.

1912 Land purchased from Dr. S.C. McLean, allows expansion of the race track to a half-mile.

 

1914-1918 The First World War

Fairgrounds are used for training purposes. Soldiers are billeted in the hotel at the southwest corner of Spencer and Centre Streets, owned by Creswell Johnston. On October 4th, 1917, the local paper reports that the category of “patriotic sofa pillow” had been won by Mrs. John Duffield.

 

1918 Influenza epidemic scare grips the entire country.

 

1930s The Depression Years

Spencerville Fair survives the Thirties relatively well. Musical bands, like the Glengarry Pipe Band, perform shows on the Wednesday afternoons, and horse races are popular evening events. Local concerts and comedy acts, followed by dances, also take place. Admission is decreased to 10 cents.

The timing for the annual exhibition becomes more structured. The fair is now customarily held “the last Tuesday and Wednesday of September.”

 

1935 Still a favourite, the Spencerville Fair Baby Show makes its first appearance. Over the next 70 years, the competition sees innumerable future Edwardsburgh luminaries paraded in their diapers.

 

1937 The fair board’s name is officially changed from the Township of Edwardsburg Agricultural Society to the Spencerville Agricultural Society.

The fair is held one week earlier than usual, so as not to interfere with the official nomination day for the upcoming Ontario provincial election.

A false report of an Infantile Paralysis Epidemic outbreak almost closes the fair. No cases are found within the township and the fair goes on as scheduled.

Haimish MacCleod, the Grenville County agricultural representative, plays a pivotal role in the introduction of the 4-H Calf, Swine & Forestry Club Shows.

In its first year, six members complete the first 4-H Calf Club project.

Dr. P.A. MacIntosh is responsible for looking over the contestants in the recently introduced Baby Show. A special prize for the boy /girl with the most freckles is awarded.

 

1939 Heavy rains cause some of the activities to be cancelled at fair time. The Black and White Show is introduced.

 

1939-1945 The Second World War

 

In the years prior to the Second World War, the IV Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, a regiment of the 4th Hussars of Canada Cavalry, put on riding displays at the Spencerville Fair. During the war years, shortages curtail many of the activities but the fair goes on.

 

1945 Rain postpones the fair for a week.

 

1947 The Township Hall burns on Sept. 14th, but the fair goes on as scheduled on the 16th and 17th. The fair office moves to the basement of the United Church and the ladies’ work moves into a section of the poultry building.

 

1952 There is concern at the fair following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease amongst Canada’s cattle.

In response to a growing need for space, the fair board purchases the Spencerville United Church drive shed and relocates some of their displays from the overcrowded Town Hall. The acquisition of the shed and its conversion into a showplace for junior work, as well as a number of commercial booths, contributes to the fair’s changing look.

The poultry building is moved to a new site where it is more appropriately grouped with other exhibits of livestock. The building is relocated near the cattle and horse sheds and stalls, northwest of the grandstand.

 

1955 Happy 100th Birthday!

The 100th anniversary of the fair is celebrated in grand style. The CBC radio program, Neighbourly News, is broadcast live from the upper auditorium of the Township Hall on Sunday, September 11; many local personalities take part. In their over-90 segment, the radio broadcast makes special mention of Kemptville resident, Miss Kate Archibald, a judge at fair for over 40 years.

Dr. A.M. Barr, Principal of Kemptville Agricultural School, on behalf of the Ontario Department of Agriculture, cuts the ribbon, officially opening the new entrance gates. A commemorative plaque is unveiled on the north gate.

The landmark fair wraps up with the Prescott Pipe Band leading the Junior 4-H Horse, Pony and Cattle Clubs past a packed grandstand.

The judges’ stand uses a public address system for the first time.

 

1956 Fire destroys the grandstands during the summer of 1956. Bill Burns of Spencerville is contracted with their rebuilding.

 

1957 It is decided that the two-day fair will now be held on “the second Friday and Saturday of September”.

 

1965 On land donated by the Spencerville Agricultural Society, the community gets an early start on their Centennial project. The look of the fair grounds is forever changed with the building of the Edwardsburg Community Centre. The Society’s first Saturday Night Horse Show is held in the newly built structure.

 

1966 Beryl Bruce becomes the first female President of the Spencerville Agricultural Society.

100 Year Recognition Plaque

1967 Canada celebrates its Centennial!

The Fair expands to three days. The Extra Centennial Day allows the Society to host a Field Day for the children.

The Saturday Parade – now a much-anticipated event – appears. Ventnor’s Women’s Institute members win third prize for their Centennial Float at the Spencerville Fair.

A Centennial project, the Edwardsburg Community Centre is officially dedicated in January. Involved in the official ribbon cutting ceremony are Herman E. Baker, Mrs. Jean Wadds, Hon. James Auld, and Earl Connell.

 

1968 On February 5th, the Society purchases the old Spencerville Public School ( Lot 26) for $2,000.00. It will serve as an exhibit building until 1973, when the building is subsequently sold to Irving Hogan.

 

The Mammoth Pumpkin Contest is introduced to the fair. Roger Weir brings home the ribbon with his 120 ¾ lbs. entry.

1969 Spencerville qualifies as a Class “B” fair, making it eligible for federal grants.

 

1970 The former United Church drive sheds are moved to the west side of the race track and converted into the current Cattle Barn. The Poultry Barn makes it permanent home in its current location.

 

1971 Exhibit Hall #1 is constructed by volunteers of the fair.

 

1972 The sum of $10,000 is given out in prize money at the fair.

 

1973 A second exhibition structure, Exhibit Hall #2, is built to house the burgeoning handicrafts.

 

1976 The Hon. John Diefenbaker, age 80, officially opens the Spencerville Fair.

 

1977 The Goat Competition is added to the list of events. The first winner of the Royal Bank of Canada Silver Tray is Danny Bedley of Kars.

 

1978 Members of the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church sell their cookbook Grandmother, Mother ‘n Me at the fair.

 

1979 The Queen of the Fair pageant begins, with the first title being held by Kimberly Roddick.

A new road, north of the fair grounds, is opened to help reduce traffic congestion on the other two access roads. During fair time, people may now enter via Goodin Road.

 

Exhibit Halls #1 & #2 are joined together by a thirty-foot addition, thus providing even more display area.

1980 The fair celebrates its 125th Anniversary.

Much-needed parking space is added along the new access road and west of the Cattle Barn.

Work is done on the Cattle Barn to better accommodate the beef cattle. The barn is used on the second day of the fair to house the goats and sheep.

Bob Mutchinson of Kingston provides helicopter rides over the Spencerville area.

 

1982 The Spencerville Fair gets its Class “A” rating.

 

1984 The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (O.A.A.S.) does away with their ranking system. Fairs are no longer categorized as “A” or “B” class events.

 

1986 The Spencerville Agricultural Society hosts a Spring Fashion Show on May 8th at the United Church Hall. The fundraising event, featuring 29 models from the Society, including Martin and Kathryn Connell, raises $250.00.

 

1987 The H. E. Baker Building is built thanks to a generous donation from the Baker family of Spencerville. Over the years, this building has housed cattle, horses, goats and 4H entries. Today, the H. E. Baker Building is home to the Barn of Learning exhibits.

The number of Poultry classes nearly doubles.

 

1990 Chuckwagon races begin their two-year stint at the fair. It is the first time in a long time a sanctioned Society event is held on Sunday.

 

1991 The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, opens the fair.

 

1992 A new grandstand is built at a cost of $100,000 by Mulders Machine and Welding, Spencerville. The demolition of the previous grandstand uncovers an early fair poster, later displayed in the Drummond Building.

 

1995 Bob Marcellus breaks the record for largest pumpkin with a whopping 663 lbs. entry.

Spencerville Fair Queen, Angela Hunter, becomes CNE Ambassador of the Fairs.

 

1996 The pumpkins just keep getting bigger! Barry DeJong’s entry weighs 728 lbs.

A Demolition Derby is added to provide entertainment on Thursday evenings.

 

Seven entries compete in the First Annual Round Bale Decorating Competition.

 

1997 The Demolition Derby moves to Friday night. Doug Fraser of Prescott emerges as the overall winner with $500 in prize money.

The Spencerville Fair is proud to welcome Grenville County’s first 4-H Llama Club. TVOntario is on hand to film footage of the competition for one of their children’s shows.

 

1998 Mr. George Drummond and family (Spencerville) build and donate a one million dollar complex to the Society. Many functions are held year round in this establishment.

The Demolition Derby returns briefly to its original Thursday evening slot, so as not to compete with the Western Horse Show, being held for the first time in the Drummond Building arena.

The Tractor Pull makes its appearance on Sunday, September 13th.

An Antique Class is added.

 

The fair officially becomes a four-day event.

 

1999 The very popular Demolition Derby is moved to Sunday afternoon.

The Drummond Building

2000 - The Drummond family donates two large barns .to house sheep and horses at fair time.
The Little Sir and Little Miss Spencerville Fair Pageant is introduced. The hours of the exhibit buildings are extended to Sunday at 4p.m.

2001 - A long-standing tradition ends. The year 2001 becomes the final year of horse racing at the Spencerville Fair. The name of the Spencerville Fair Queen Pageant officially changes to the Spencerville Fair Ambassador Competition when a male contestant decides to compete.

2002 - In a bid to better utilize its holdings, the Spencerville Agricultural Society hosts two new community events at the Drummond Building. The 1st Annual Beach Party brings good music and great fun to a frosty February night. The following weekend, the 1st Annual Spring Trade Show appears to rave reviews. Let’s go surfing! The Society purchases the exclusive right to spencervillefair.ca and spencervillefair.com for their new web site. By fair time, the Spencerville Agricultural Society is up and running on the Web. To accommodate an ever-expanding fair, the Society purchases adjoining property. An entertainment tent is added. Eddie and the Stingrays entertain the crowds on Friday evening; Ambush takes to the stage on Saturday night. The Mammoth Pumpkin record is broken yet again. Jeff Patry takes home the James Utman Memorial Trophy with a pumpkin weighing 923 lbs. The Society hosts its first Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. 2003 For safety reasons, the old horse barn is demolished. The advertising budget is tripled. For the first time, the fair draws a record 25,000 visitors. Families come as far as 100 kilometres to attend. The Midway is moved to the field north of the Drummond Building. The Greasy Pig Contest, Team Penning, and horseshoe tournament are added to the program.

The Saturday Fair Parade reverses its route to better accommodate the growing event.

The H. E. Baker Building becomes home to the Barn of Learning, dedicated to educating fairgoers, both young and old, in our rich agricultural heritage.

 

To better acknowledge the generous support it receives from the community, the Society launches the Spencerville Fair Sponsorship Program.

 

The entertainment tent welcomes country singer Adam Gregory, along with fair standards, Ambush and D.W. James.

 

Art Milburn of Brockville claims the James Utman Memorial Trophy with his 939 lbs. entry in the Mammoth Pumpkin Contest.

 

Spencerville mourns the passing of a great “friend of the Fair,” George Drummond. To mark his contribution to the Fair over the years, the Spencerville Agricultural Society renames the fairgrounds, the George Drummond Memorial Grounds. A painting of George Drummond, by local artist Marc Tessier, now hangs in the Drummond Building.

 

2004 Space is cleared west of the fairgrounds to create a new parade assembly area.

The 150th Anniversary Committee is formed.

 

The Society purchases a new computer program to facilitate fair registration.

 

The Fair Book goes digital. Individuals are asked to download the Fair Book from the Spencerville Fair Website. For technologically challenged individuals, paper copies are available.

 

The remnants of Hurricane Frances visit the fair on opening day. CFRA broadcasts from a rain-drenched fairground. Because of significant flooding in the entertainment tent, the fair’s showcase and ribbon cutting ceremonies are moved to the Edwardsburgh Community Centre arena.

 

Local businessman, Mr. Harry Pratt, and Anniversary Committee chairperson, Marc Tessier, launch the 150th Anniversary Fund initiative during the fair’s Thursday evening showcase.

 

The entertainment tent dries up in time to welcome April Wine on Friday night and Aaron Lines on Saturday evening.

 

Shortly after the 149 th Spencerville Fair, a set of impressive gates are installed at the Goodin Road entrance. Plans get underway to commemorate the fair’s 150th anniversary with the construction of a special monument and surrounding garden.

 

2005 The Fair is 150 Years Young!

 

Opening ceremonies of the150th Spencerville Fair begin with a ceremonial tree planting by SAS president, Dennis Colautti and Angela Hunter-Morrison, descendant of the fair’s first president, Allan Hunter. The tree is planted on the grounds of the historic Spencerville Mill.

 

The Spencerville Mill Foundation hosts ‘Pictures From Our Past’ , a photo exhibit highlighting the township’s rural heritage and the 150th anniversary of Spencerville Fair.

 

Ms. Leona Dombrowsky, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

unveils an OMAFRA plaque on the newly-constructed 150 th Anniversary Wall.

 

On Friday, the Spencerville Agricultural Society welcomes the Honourable James K. Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, to the fair.

 

Marc Tessier authors the Spencerville Agricultural Society’s special anniversary book, Spencerville Fair 1855-2005: Our Past, Our Present, Our Future. The 288-page book traces the history of the fair from its beginnings in 1855 to the present.

 

Record numbers flock to the entertainment tent on Saturday night to party with Blue Rodeo. The previous evening, Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell had the tent jumping.

 

The Barn of Learning houses a popular historical display of the fair’s history.

 

Karleigh Pitura sets a new record, an impressive 1000lbs., in the Mammoth Pumpkin Competition.

2006 A time capsule, commemorating the 150 th anniversary of the fair, is sealed by Little Miss 2005 Millie Close-Devries during a 1950s style dance with Freddy Vette and the Flames.

The First annual Punkin Chunkin contest and the first talent show were held.

2007 Performances by Trooper Friday night, George Canyon Saturday night in the Entertainment Tent.
Tommy Cash paid tribute to his late brother Johnny Cash on Sunday in the Entertainment Tent.

Largest attendance on record.

New events this year included hang gliding demonstrations, helicopter rides, and Star Boyz show.

2008 Largest Sunday attendance on record, featuring the Bowes Brothers, George Fox and Bill Anderson in the Entertainment Tent.

2010 Eric Connell had the honor of being chosen the first male Ambassador of Spencerville Fair
A capacity crowd braved a cold wet Sunday in the Entertainment tent to listen to the sounds of Nevelle Wells, Gail Gavan, George Hamilton lV, and Memories of Conway Twitty with son Michael Twitty, Grandson Tre and the Twitty Birds.

2011 Kevin Costner appeared at the Spencerville Fair with his band Modern West.


Kevin Costner with his band Modern West

2012 Spencerville Fair featuring the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and DW James

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Spencerville Fair
September 8th 2012


Ian Black
CBC Ottawa Weatherman
Parade Marshall
Sept 8th, 2012
157th Spencerville Fair

Spencerville Agricultural Society were honored to have three guests from the O.A.A.S attend the 157th fair. The President Phil Hernandez along with his lovely wife and Past President Fred Cooper spent the afternoon at the fair and later attended opening ceremonies. The new General Manager of the O.A.A.S Mark Beaven also attended the fair on Saturday.

The First Annual Award of Merit was presented to Muriel Irving. Muriel was presented with a bench recognizing her years as a volunteer at the fair.

2013 Spencerville Fair

The second Annual Award of Merit was presented to a long time volunteer, Past President
and Honorary Director of the board Mr. Jim Bennett.

This year Joe and Joanne Moulton of Joe Computer in Spencerville were recognized for their
outstanding years of service and contributions to the fair year after year.
Joe helped design the fair website approximately 10 years ago and maintains it free of charge. 
A donation of a computer and equipment prior to the fair this year when the main office
computer failed during the ramp-up to the opening night was very timely and
much appreciated.

The fair was honored with the presence of three dignitaries from the O.A.A.S again this year. Past President 2011 Fred Cooper, Past President 2012 Phil Hernandez and the 2013 President Robert Hargrave accompanied by their lovely wives toured the grounds on the Thursday and attended the opening of the 158 th fair.  Robert Hargrave, Jim Bennett and Robert
Drummond President cut the ribbon.

In order: Robert Drummond, Phil Hernandez, Randy Norton, Robert Hargrave, and Fred Cooper

The first Junior Ambassador Competition was held along with the Little Sir Little Miss Contest and Ambassador Competitions.

This was the first year for Goat Milking competitions and Sheep Shearing Demonstrations.

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