By David Brown, Councillor Ward 21 Rideau-Jock
The Richmond Fair just finished celebrating its 178th edition of the annual fall fair. The Richmond Fair is the largest event that takes place in our ward; with an annual attendance of over 10,000 people, it is an indispensable part of our heritage.
The Richmond Fair has been in operation since 1844; it is the oldest Fall Fair in Ottawa and one of the oldest in Ontario. During the last century, it was known as the Carleton County Fair, and as Carleton County covered the entire City of Ottawa, it has long been a part of the heritage of the region.
Over the last 179 years, the fair has brought farmers, rural residents, and City dwellers together to celebrate agriculture by hosting a wide range of livestock shows, including dairy and beef cattle shows, heavy and light horse shows, sheep shows and more. Families enter hundreds of homemade goodies from jams and jellies, baked goods like pies, cookies, muffins and tarts. Skilled residents can enter arts and handicrafts which are put on display showcasing a wide variety of talents from across the county. Farmers and backyard gardeners alike enter vegetables, pumpkins, gourds, and crops for judging.
School children are invited to learn about agriculture by watching live demonstrations, engaging with farmers and various experts, having the opportunity to learn about the processes that bring your food from field to fork. Families are invited to attend the annual parade on Saturday which runs down the main street of the village.
Ottawa’s fairs have developed a strong partnership with Robertson’s Amusements, a vital partner that brings the midway rides that are a popular staple of each fair. Entertainment during the day and evenings provide wonderful opportunities for friends and neighbours to connect, share stories, and update each other on news of their families and lives.
Although some may take the fall fairs for granted, Ottawa has a strong and rich history that is celebrated through the five fairs in Ottawa and many more throughout the Ottawa Valley.
Ottawa is an agricultural City, with rural Ottawa being four times larger than urban Ottawa. These fairs help preserve our rural traditions, help bridge the gap between rural and urban, and demonstrate the importance of our communities within the fabric of the big city.
You won’t find a similar event happening within the urban areas of the City, but from the villages of Navan and Metcalfe to Carp and Richmond, you will find a strong tradition older than much of the City as a whole. Most importantly, all these fairs have operated for more than a century and a half because of thousands of volunteers who come together each and every year to make them happen.
I hope you were able to visit the Richmond Fair this year and experience one of the joys of the season.
To borrow a phrase from a local business in North Gower, “there is no culture without agriculture.”
Featured Image: The Richmond Fair opening ceremonies and official ribbon cutting took place Thurs., Sept. 14.