by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams
Judi and I had been looking forward to visit the Paris Fair for a long time. We had actually wanted to go last year, but time and circumstances prevented it. We attended the Fair on Saturday so that we could experience Ontario's Premier, Kathleen Wynne, presenting winning ribbons to 4-H Club members. We drove to Welland on the Friday to enjoy the fantastic evening performance at IlluminAqua by Bowfire. I must say that although we made it through IlluminAqua, the skies let loose on the drive to Brantford. The roadway was blurred with rain and high winds. The drive was “unpleasant” and “nerve racking”, but much to our relief the rains stopped in time to unload the car for the night.
After leaving Brantford we wound our way through the streets of Paris until we arrived at the Paris Fair Grounds. Once we got parked, we could see the expanse of the fairgrounds. Up on the hill was the main Fairgrounds with most of the activities taking place there. There was a full motorcycle racetrack down the hill and off to the side and then a huge field for the horses below. We could see horse jumping and rodeo activities going on down there. The grounds were so massive, it was a challenge on which way to go first. Our instincts took us up the hill to the main area. We hoped we were in time to see the Premier and presentations. We realized that we had arrived in time when we saw a large crowds gathered around the show ring. The bleachers were full of people. The large OPP delegation and black SUV’s along with a large security staff were very present. Rather than trying to scramble up into the crowded stands, we were able to stand right at the fence at the side end of the arena. The show had begun!
Here's Judi's thoughts on what happened next … “After my story previously about the “Barrie Fair” and my “fly away skirt" and “flip flops” story, I was glad to see that I was not the only “unfortunately attired person” at a Fair this summer. As it happened, this year is the 100 years of 4-H in Canada, Premier Kathleen Wynne was attending the Paris Fair, in part, to give out the award winning ribbons to the winners of the cattle categories. Agriculture is still in the Premier’s portfolio and she spoke about how passionate she is about the importance of Agriculture in Canada. This day, both Premier Kathleen Wynne and the young Ambassador of the Paris Fair wore “flip flops” (open toed flat shoes) and white dresses. Mind you, their dresses weren’t flying in the wind as mine had, but they were white. Someone had the foresight to line the viewing bleachers with plastic cloths so the Premier and guests could stay “clean”. The Premier and Ambassador walked the show ring on wooden chips to present the award winning ribbons to the 4H participants. But, cows are cows, and nature happens. The poor young Ambassador stepped right into a fresh pile of fresh cow manure. Fortunately hoes were readily available for clean-up and the Ambassador soon returned to the ceremonies now adorned with sensible flat enclosed shoes."
You never know what weather conditions will eventually bring out in a day... winds, rain, snow, ice, muddy fields, dry dirt flying … you get the picture. My only suggestion or “tip”, as it were … follow your “common sense”, not your “fashion-sense” for your next adventures to Ontario’s great festivals, fairs, and events.
After the presentations, the Premier and her group went on a short walk-about around the Fairgrounds. After we had taken photographs of the Premiers group, Judi insisted of having her picture taken alongside a huge tractor tire wheel. We had a moment to meet our acquaintance and Manager of the Paris Fair, Dave Nash. He had his hands full but was gracious to take time for a quick hello and photo with Judi. We managed to find a shuttle bus that was just about to leave to drive visitors down to the lower part of the Fairgrounds. It was interesting in that there were two completely difference types of equestrian events going on, a horse competition and a rodeo roping competition. Tons of cattle waited their turn for roping not looking all the amused. We took the shuttle bus back up the hill and started our way through the grounds above. We enjoyed the exhibits in the Agriplex building, walked through the exciting midway and watch the single hitch horse’s demonstration. We explored the Market Building and made our way to the "Wild World Experience" featuring Little Rays Reptiles. Interesting note... while we stayed at the hotel in Brantford, the Little Rays Reptile van was staying at the same hotel. We can only hope the "reptiles" weren't "sharing a bed" next door to our room. The display here was extremely interesting and huge crowd pleaser. Interactive activities and hands on experience for all. Freddie Fusion Kids Pedal Tractor Pull attracted many visitors also. Although the Paris Fair is extremely large, it still had the country feeling and offered a true agricultural experience. The sights, sounds, smells, laughter of kids and folks having a GREAT TIME!