"This fair began in 1840, is older than Canada, but not old-fashioned, and it's truly remained agricultural in theme," says Karen Matthews, general manager of Ontario's fifth largest fair. She was right. When I visited last year, the fair was abuzz with a workforce of 100s of volunteers and about 180 exhibitors and food vendors.
One of the big highlights is the agricultural displays. Here you can learn everything you wanted to know about fruits, grains and vegetables. For example, did you know one ear of corn contains approximately 800 kernels? I knew squash and pumpkins could grow big, but not this large. Eric and Margaret Sundin of Stoney Creek captured top awards for their 659.1 kilogram pumpkin (1,450 pounds) and 470.19 kilogram squash (1,036 pounds) grown in 2009. However Margaret told me that "It's been tougher to grow them bigger this year because of the heat."
Agricultural exhibitors proudly show off their poultry and live-stock and the fair is known for its horse shows. You can easily spend two or three hours sitting in the grandstand watching the horses. Larry Dawson, this year's president of the fair says, "My first recollection goes back to 1950 when I was riding on a wagon with my dad with a team of horses. I have probably only missed 10 fairs, but my sons and grandchildren haven't missed a fair since they were born."
This year, I'm going to check out the Belgian, Percheron and Clydesdale horse show on Friday and Saturday.
Entertainment is top-notch. Each year the one man band, known simply as "Bandaloni," wanders the fairgrounds and draws crowds. He is amazing and has young and old dancing in the crowds. Other things that will keep you entertained are The Flying Fools - a high-dive show, Little Ray's Reptile Zoo, Farmz on Wheelz and a midway. No local agricultural fair is complete without a midway, and the Norfolk County Fair is no exception. Rides such as the Polar Express delight young and old alike. There's Demolition Derby & Monster Madness events, and all events are included in the price of your fair admission.
The fair features live entertainment at the bandstand. Acts have featured The Barenaked Ladies on the opening night and country music's Lonestar as well as Jo Dee Messina.
Grandstand admission is free. All performances begin at 8 p.m.
One of the main attractions is the Flavour Fest event which showcases Norfolk County's farmers, produce and growers. Products such as peanuts, apples, cider, cheese, sweet potatoes, maple syrup, popcorn, oven-warm breads, meats and more are highlighted. Grab a chair and watch cooking demonstrations by local foodies. Food Network executive chefs like Niagara's own Anna Olsen of Welland, Lynn Crawford and Rob Rainford will be cooking and entertaining crowds using only Norfolk County foods.
Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show
Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show - Midway Rides & Fair Food
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, The Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.