Western Fair District
Western Fair Revisited
by Anne Brooks, Festival Nomad Correspondent
"Overlooking the Western Fair District"
The Western Fair is a tradition for me and my family. I have gone to the fair every year since I was quite small. I love going to the fair; not only do I get to people watch, which is always entertaining but I also enjoy checking out the farm animals, the handmade quilts, and eating fair food.
My memories of the fair always include the St. Anne's Restaurant booth. For as long as I can remember members of my family have volunteered at this booth. My sister and I used to volunteer with my Dad at the booth when we were kids. It has historically been a place for a lot of farmers, carnies and the general public to go and grab a good meal, unlike a lot of the booths St. Anne's has home made food. You can order a roast beef dinner, all day breakfast, or a slice of homemade pie.
If you are ever in the London area during the first two weekends in September, I would highly recommend visiting the Western Fair, its full of great activities and food for the whole family to enjoy.
by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams
The Western Fair District is one of the largest and best fairs in Canada. Last year we had hoped to send a Festival Nomad Correspondent to visit it on our behalf, but unfortunately that didn't work out. This year, however, it was Judi's and my turn. We were very thankful that it turned out that way. The Western Fair District is located in the heart of London and includes various buildings that cater to the numerous activities and events that take place throughout the year. After we had parked out car and entered the fairgrounds the excitement began. The midway greeted us immediately upon entering the Fairgrounds. It seemed to stretch forever. The sights and sounds drew us into the variety of colourful games and loud music emanated from the exciting rides. We made our way through the twists and turns of the midway where we saw excited kids and parents in long ups waiting to be swirled, twirled and dipped! Out of the maze we enjoyed the various buildings that offered exhibits of vendors, variety of foods, crafts, trinkets. It was here that we started our search for our contact, Voytek Michalczyk. Our search took us through the maze of buildings to the racetrack side of the fairgrounds. It was a lot quieter here, but still lots of activities. We met up with Voytek by a "bell telephone booth" (pre-arranged) in the back of the main buildings. He was able to share with us some of the exciting adventures that we had yet to discover that day. Our timing was perfect. The high wire act, "The Great Wallendas" was about to begin. This family of talented and courageous high wire walkers delighted and terrified the audience at the same time. We were able to walk all around during their performance and got some amazing "shots". The photos do say a "thousand words" here, amazing! During the performance through the hush of the crowds, you could hear a pin drop in anticipation. Everything at the Fair was well planned. Immediately after the Wallendas performance, a dog show was getting ready to start. Prior to the Dog Show we were able to enjoy some exhibits of other animals, including large camels. The Western Fair grounds are immaculately clean and well organized. A family area and fun kids zone offered tons to see and do. From driving a small tractor through a curved track, to yellow duck races through a water maze. The heritage and good feel of the agricultural component was clearly felt here. Fanshawe Pioneer Village had a large display with interactive re-enactors, crafts for kids, and demonstrations. As I said, lots to see and do. It was time to make our way back through the buildings, through the twists and turns of midway. To get to the agricultural displays, we needed to head back towards the parking area. This required that we travel under a large bridge. Above us London traffic flowed smoothly! We had two choices, we could either walk to the Agri buildings or we could take a fun tracctor ride. We decided to walk! Go figure! This building housed livestock (cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, sheep, etc.) and other agricultural displays. They had new born piglets on show who were squeaking and suckling. Judi got to hold a new born "chick". Although, when we lived on a farm, we had gathered "fresh farm eggs" , feed donkeys and cattle, played soccer with pigs, poor Judi looked terrified when she held this small new born. It's amazing what experiences you never know will come your way, especially at a Fair. In a small stage area, off to the back of the building, a reptile zoo offered allowed visitor to experience learn about the Zoo's these amazing animals. In a larger show arena, an fantastic bare back Arabian Horse trick-riding show was taking place. You might expect to pay a lot of money just to see this part of the show, but as Voytek said to us, the Western Fair District offers a lot of huge amount of value for a "Day at the Fair". We saw a dance competition with proud parents, grandparents and friends cheering the participants on. As night began to close in, we found ourselves standing near the front of the stage where rock group was about to perform. Another Fair "perk" for your moneys worth! We were surprised how great they sounded. But, as the skies grew dark, so did the humongous dark thunder clouds. Reluctantly we decided to take our leave, after spending the entire day at the Western District Fair. We drove home safely with the ever growing storm right behind us. We heard afterwards that the rains held off and everyone had a great night.! What an amazing fun filled day at the Fair!