by Festival Nomad Correspondent, Kevin Stuart
Orono Fair Re-visited
The Rural Experience
While Toronto has the Canadian National Exhibition and the Royal Winter Fairs, it’s during the fall in the small towns of Ontario one must go to truly enjoy the rural experience. Among the earliest ones that occur in the season is held in Orono, nestled just north and in between the towns of Bowmanville and Newcastle. Our visit to the 159th Orono Fair (formerly the Durham Central Fair) was the first for our family and I must say it was well presented.
It began with the organized parking with several volunteers on hand to guide traffic through. Tim Horton’s had sponsored it which meant it was free to fairgoers…a nice touch. Because of the layout of the surrounding streets, most people could park without having to walk too far to get to the gates.
There were the demolition derby and horse jumping demonstrations which always draw an enthusiastic crowd. As well, we caught the sheep shearing demonstration. These events were all within close proximity of each other. Another interesting view was that of a sow and her newborn piglets for all to view. In addition there were many signs in big lettering set up along the walls where all the animals were explaining basic but interesting facts about each one.
We also got to see a goat milking demonstration complete with running commentary. For kids who wanted to experience “hands on” milking, there was the ever-popular model cow as seen in the accompanying photo. Of course, those standing nearby might be in for some stray spray if the milker’s aim is a bit off but it’s all part of the fun.
For The Kids...
Next was the midway, spread over almost the entire northern half of the park offering rides for all ages and interests. All the favourites were there and it was within easy distance of the poultry barn and animal show barn, home to the Ken Jen petting zoo and Charlie’s Pride ponies.. If anyone is having some difficulty orienting themselves, at many areas there are several signs pointing the way to all the exhibits.
Of course, one of the most popular draws of any fair has to be the food. At the Orono Fair this was well presented in the General Store tent that also housed several cooking demonstrations throughout the weekend. We learned a few interesting things about bee keeping and honey production and even about such a farm in Tyrone. Sounds like an idea for a future visit for us at Ontario Visited. There were many other samples of food and drink and of course the chance to purchase some to take home. The layout under the tent was well done and while in a more confined space, it actually allowed for an easier view of all the products and exhibitors.
The Fair's Past...
Given the Orono Fair’s long history, they made sure the past was well represented with many such displays inside the arena. That included farm implements from another time along with other artifacts to remind us how far we have progressed in 159 years. Even the kids could catch a small taste of the pioneer spirit with a miniature display of logs. The object was to try to build a shelter for one’s family as the settlers of earlier centuries needed to.
A Great Time
Although we missed the actual demolition derby event, we saw many of the participating vehicles and snapped a few photos of the some of the standouts. Next to riding bumper cars it’s an excellent way to live out one’s driving frustrations and feel a rush of excitement from the crowd.
We were looking for a fair that has a little something for everyone, and the 159th Orono Fair delivered.
by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams
We had traveled Highway 115 many times and had noticed the Orono Fair Grounds each time we passed. Judi and I had wondered about the Orono Fair and had talked about visiting it sometime. That sometime, turned out to be this year! It was a Saturday morning, and like too many Saturday mornings this year, the sky was overcast and rain was threatening! After much discussion, we decided to take our chances with the weather. When we started out the rain hadn’t started. When we arrived at the fair grounds, it had! It wasn’t raining hard, but it was raining! We found the fair ground parking lot and entered. At the ticket booth we paid our admission fee and then started to look for a parking spot. With the car parked, we put on our rain coats and headed for the fair. Just across from where we parked was an open building. We walked over to take a look. Inside the building, people where at high tables, working on remote radio control cars. A small track had been build inside the building. We left the building for the Grandstand area. Along the way we came to penned farm animals. It turned out to be the KenJen Petting Zoo. We took a look at the different animals and then continued on our journey. As we approached the Grandstand track, we noticed that a parade was taking place. We were actually at the parade’s finish. A parade marshal asked us and others to wait until the track was clear of parade traffic. It was great because we had a “track-side” view of the parade! The parade participants looked happy but very wet! As soon as there was a break in the parade traffic, the marshal waved us through. With the rain still coming down, we headed quickly for the arena which was located just to the east of the Grandstands. Warmth and dryness were just a few steps away!
Out Of The Rain…
As we walked along the inner pathway to the Grandstands and arena, more rain drenched parade participants passed us on their way to the finishing area. The stands were empty except for a few diehard on lookers! We arrived at the arena, located just behind the Grandstands. In side it was warm and dry! The arena had been set up to accommodate for Homecraft displays and Orono Fair exhibitors. A stage area had also been set up, but nothing was showing when we were there. There were several rows of Homecraft displays and we walked each row to take a look. Items such as flowers, photographs, art, quilts and school projects were features in the displays. Several exhibitor booths had been erected and Fair visitors were being offered a variety of products and services. After touring the arena, we checked outside to see if it was still raining. It wasn’t, so we ventured out under the still cloud-filled sky. Across from the grandstand was the Agricultural building. We headed for the building. Along the way we passed several food vendors. Inside the Agricultural building rows of tables were full of local produce, corn carrots, pumpkins, wheat, hay and even a giant sunflower head! Each display had been judged and the winners tagged. Once we had finished exploring this building, we headed for the outdoors again!
Outside again and Then In…
We left the Agricultural building. Across from it was the Durham Junior Farmers building. A narrow outside passage way created between them. The Junior Farmers building was being used to sell hamburgers and hotdogs. We squeeze passed a line of hungry customers. Beyond these buildings the grounds opened up and there were several other activities and events being offered. The grounds to the south were full of new tractors and farm equipment. To the north was a field of heritage tractors. This display had been organized by the Orono Heritage Tractor Club. Beyond the antique tractors a Midway had been set up for the Orono Fair. We decided to take a look at the antique tractors. While we were taking our walk, a steam driven tractor “tooted” by us! From the antique tractors we headed south on the still wet inner pathway until we came to the first of the livestock buildings. Inside were hundreds of chickens each in their individual cage. We stuck our headed into the building to find that all the chickens were “clucking” in unison! The noise was deafening, so we moved along. The next building housed the cows. Several were tethered to hitches while their junior farmers grooming them for judging. The judging “Show Ring” was close by, so we headed for it. Along the way we met a young farm girl and her mother. The Junior Farmer and her award winning friend posed for a few photographs. We entered the Show Ring building and found a seat. A class was in the process of being judged. We watched as the judge took his time to inspect each contestant. Once the judge had completed his inspection, he asked each handler to move their charges in judging order. He then stood back for another look to make sure he was satisfied with his choices. When he was satisfied, he took the microphone and announced the winners. As he did so, he explained the reasoning behind each choice. Then the next class entered the ring. This class included our junior farm girl! She professionally led her cow into the ring and then paraded it with the other contestants! I am sure that her mother was extremely proud! Once the judging was over, we left the building and headed south!
The Horse Show…
Right beside the Show Ring building was the Clarington Emergency and Fire Services display and booth. Several firefighters were on hand talking with fair visitors and handing out safety information. Sparky the Fire Dog mascot was also there greeting kids and their parents as they walked by. It was now time for the Fair’s Horse Show and we wanted to watch it. It had originally been scheduled to be held in the Grandstand area, but the ground was far too wet. Because of this the venue had been moved to another area located just south of the livestock buildings. Temporary seating was being set up as we arrived. Once everything was set, the PA announcer called for the first class to come into the ring. This was the single light horse and wagon class. The contestants entered the ring from a southern gate. As each entered they began a counter clock-wise trot around the inner perimeter of the ring. They paraded around several times and were then asked to come to the ring’s centre. The final judging then took place. The winner’s numbers were given to the announcer who then called each winner to the front of the crowd to receive his/her prize ribbon. This class then left the ring and the next class, double horse team and wagon, was asked to enter. Like the class before them, they circled the ring several time and then came to the centre of the ring for final judging. We watched several classes and then made our way back to our car. Along the way we walked through the centre of the Orono Fairgrounds and passed a number of horse trailers with horses tied to them. They were all waiting for their turn in the ring. Even though it had been a cloudy and sometimes rainy day, Judi and I enjoyed ourselves at the Orono Fair!