KIRKTON — The Kirkton Fair, set to take place Friday through Sunday, Sept. 13-15, is the last surviving agricultural fair in Perth South and St. Marys. Vice president of the Kirkton-Woodham Optimists, Martin Hymus, says credit should definitely go to the Kirkton-Woodham Agricultural Society for keeping the annual event alive while so many others have fallen by the wayside due to dwindling attendance and volunteers.
But Hymus notes it’s impossible — especially for committed community boosters like the members of the Optimist Club — to ignore the fact that attendance and volunteers have also been dwindling for the Kirkton Fair. And that’s a big part of the reason why the Optimist Club has stepped up this year to help organize some new elements to the long-running event.
Agricultural Society members “are still pretty much running the show,” Hymus told the Journal Argus in an interview last week. “We’re just spearheading a campaign to get some more attractions in there for the kids.”
The regular, established elements of the fair are still happening. The agricultural show starts Friday, with the 4-H Dairy Club showmanship events and the displays of agricultural groups and produce.
The popular Kirkton Fair Parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, proceeding from the downtown intersection to the Community Centre grounds.
The agricultural shows also continue through Saturday.
And on Sunday, don’t miss the annual Kirkton Fair Demolition Derby. Anyone wishing to take part should call Bernie at 519-229-6931.
Special this year will be a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Kirkton Library. “It will be open and running some games to celebrate at the fair,” Hymus reported.
One thing that has been brought back from past years, which had slipped by the wayside, is the “Farmers’ Olympics.” This used to feature teams of four farmers taking part in events to test their physical prowess and agricultural know-how. Now, the team size has been decreased in an effort to have more people sign up.
“It’s something that used to be quite popular, I understand, so we’re looking at trying to get it going again. We’re going to dust off the old trophy.”
Hymus says organizers of the updated Kirkton Fair Farmers’ Olympics hope the event’s return attracts some young adults, both as competitors and contestants.
But it’s definitely those who are younger than young adults who were the target market for the Optimist Club, when they decided to take on a larger role in the organization of the annual fair.
There won’t be a midway, but there will be some great old-fashioned games like ring and beanbag tosses, water balloons and a straw bale maze, as well as a nod to modern kid-centred fun in the form of an “Angry Birds” game on the Community Centre’s ball diamond.
The Optimist Club has also brought in a dog agility show, as well as representatives from the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, who will provide a “catch-show-and-release” display of insects from nearby Fish Creek.
“It follows right along with our mandate, as an Optimist Club,” the organization’s vice president noted.
“We’re known as ‘Friends of Youth.’ So how can we let the number of people attending our local fair go down, without making an effort to bring in something for our youth?”