There’s no better place to get a taste of community than at a fall fair. There are a number of really big fall fairs – even the fabled CNE is essentially an overgrown community fair – but to really get a taste of the significance of these fabulous events, you need to start small.
One of the smallest in Muskoka is also the first, the always charming and delightful Severn Bridge Fall Fair which takes place September 8.
Some fairs are all about exhibits and shows, but the Severn Bridge fair is very much a hands-on affair. There are old-fashioned games for children, like sack races and egg relay races, and a fish pond. Adults get to try their hand at some competition as well, with an axe-throwing contest, a remote-control truck rally, and a horseshoe tournament.
Of course, there are also plenty of opportunities to see the creativity of the community, with contests in everything from needlework to crafts to baking to horticulture. These, too, are active events – the contests are open to all Ontario residents. The prizes are modest but the fun is real; if you’ve got some excellent flowers in the garden, or you make some superb baked goods, why not enter them? The entry details are here.
Naturally there are livestock shows, including a horse show where riders show their skills at both Western and English riding. There’s also a scarecrow contest with scarecrows decorated by local businesses. Throw in live music, a corn roast, and a noon parade, and you’ve got a full day of fun from 9 a.m. until supper time. Details are on the website or on facebook.
The next weekend brings Muskoka’s biggest and oldest fall fair. Bracebridge has hosted its annual fair for 151 years, and it’s still a must-see experience.
The fair runs over three days and nights, from 6:00 Friday until 5:00 Sunday. There’s even camping available for those who just can’t get enough fair (it’s used primarily by exhibitors and competitors, some of whom drive for many hours to compete at the fair.)
Music-lovers get a full slate of local talent, with a dozen different performers from classic rock, to pipes and drums, to a steel pan band, to a Sunday morning gospel band.
If tapping your toes isn’t enough, on Saturday night there’s a square dance.
Horse power is on display at the horse pulls, as well as various riding contests taking place throughout the weekend. There’s an antique tractor pull and a lawn tractor pull, a firefighter challenge and a dog-powered sports demo. And, of course, there are livestock shows – sheep, rabbits, cattle and poultry – and a midway, along with plenty of other entertainment.
The local season wraps up the next weekend, when the Huntsville Fall Fair takes place. It, too, is a three day affair, with a midway, exhibit halls, livestock shows and more to enjoy.
One of the highlights of the Huntsville fair is the western horse show, which takes place on Saturday, September 22. Riders come from around the area and beyond to show their skills. The barrel racing and other races, which take place around midday, are a particular audience favourite.