History of the Rosseau Fall Fair

The 2017 Rosseau Fall Fair, held on August 26th, 2017 marks the 142nd offering of the Rosseau Fall Fair.  The first fair, called the Humphrey and Cardwell Agricultural Fall show was held on October 1st, 1875.
 
Early Humphrey Township records show that in May 1883, the municipality authorized the purchase of lot 18 on the west side of the Parry Sound Road (Hwy 141) for the construction of a township hall that was to be also used for the fall fair.

In 1907, the name of the agricultural group was changed to Rosseau Agricultural Society serving the residents of Humphrey, Cardwell, Watt and Christie Townships. The earliest exhibits were mainly livestock and produce, baking and dry-goods. Only preserves, jams and jellies made from local fruits were permitted to be entered in the competition.

SCHEDULE

The timing of the fair has changed somewhat over its long history. It started out as a one day event, with entering, judging and viewing being packed into the same day. It evolved into a three day fair for a few years. During the depression, in 1933 when finances were tight, the fair scaled back to a two day schedule with entries received the first day and judging and exhibiting taking place the second day. It has remained on this schedule ever since. The early fairs were typically held the last week of September, with a few exceptions in 1882 and 1883, when October 10th was fair day. The September date allowed the local schools to support the fair with entries. School children from Rosseau, Rosseau Falls, Hekkla, Orrville and Humphrey marched with their classes to the fall fair. However, when schools were amalgamated in the 1960’s, it was no longer possible to do so. The fair date was then moved to the last weekend in August before the Labour day weekend and remains the same to date. This change enabled summer residents and guest in Rosseau to both attend and exhibit in the fair.

FAIRGROUNDS

By the end of 1909, Humphrey Township bought six lots on west Ash Street and east Maple street for the creation of a permanent fairground. The first exhibition hall was built in 1915 and a kitchen was added to this building in 1925 at a cost of $175. There was no electricity or running water but there was a wood burning cook stove, the biggest convenience in the kitchen. During the 1930s and early 1940s, the Department of Agriculture provided a large tent to display the exhibits of the school children from the surrounding area.

The main building collapsed on March 2, 1979 from the weight of the snow on its roof. The small kitchen remained standing. Later in 1979, the current field house was built. This new building featured an updated kitchen with electricity.

EVENTS

The Rosseau Fall Fair has always retained the charm of a small town, old country fair. Over the years, the focus of the exhibits has changed from heavily agricultural to the current focus on home-crafts and gardening. Government regulations and insurance costs forced the elimination of livestock and poultry exhibits by the end of 1984. However, the increasing number of exhibits in home-crafts, including knitting, crochet, quilts, rugs, sewing and crafts keep the exhibit hall full and interesting to fair attendees. The junior fair has developed into a very popular attraction for school children.

The Rosseau Fall Fair strives to keep the old-fashioned flavour of a traditional fair with opportunities for family fun. A traditional parade through the village marks the opening of the fair staring at 10am. Events and attractions have included a decorated bicycle contest, log sawing, nail driving, fish pond, dunk tank, tug of war, dart and dime toss, running races and the ever-popular frog jumping contest. While fair vendors sell their wares, the 3rd Change Band provides musical entertainment for everyone to enjoy. The fair closes with the awarding of the trophies and prizes just before 4 pm.

In the past, some popular events included a dunk tank with the Rosseau Volunteer Fire Department and the Humphrey and District Skating Club, a cake walk by the Humphrey Play Group; tables of chance from the Dunchurch Lions Club from Dunchurch, bingo, Corn roast with the Orange Lodge, pony rides, face painting, glue coral, penny table; Trapper Bob Atkinson with demonstration of trapping techniques and Audrey Tournay with a beaver from Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

In the early years of the fair, events included ploughing matches, horseshoe pitching, baseball games, tug of war and the ever popular log sawing. Added to the entertainment list in 1918 was dancing in the evening.

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