Record breaking return

The Norwood Fair made its incredible return after two years this past weekend. Norwood’s Shelia Stanley cuts the ribbon during the opening ceremonies to officially open the 2022 Norwood Fair. The Stanley family has a long standing local dairy farm and has been involved with the fair for over 50 years. Holding the ribbon is Shelia’s grandson Evan and great grandson Jackson, her son Mark and his wife Suzie watch the ceremonial cutting from behind the podium. 

People have many traditions for the annual Thanksgiving weekend, whether it is visiting and gathering with friends and family for the traditional meal of turkey and trimmings or perhaps it is taking off on a private drive or getaway to the country to experience nature’s incredible artistry and palette of colours. We all have our different traditions; for the town of Norwood just east of Peterborough the Thanksgiving Weekend is dominated by one thing: the Norwood Fair. The forced pandemic hiatus for the past two years had justifiably left residents nervous with a “something is missing” feeling, this past weekend those worries were laid to rest with an opening day record shattering attendance with a total of 21, 264 visitors touring the grounds for the fairs Saturday return. This breaks a previous record of 19,490 set back in 2006. Enthusiasm for the fairs return in 2022 was definitely running high and with nearly all traditional events and favourites back in place, the fairs return did not disappoint.  The fair it seems also received Mother Nature approval as she provided three rain free albeit cool at times, days allowing all rides and attractions to take place unhindered and on time. An incredible grand total of 50,774 individuals attended the fair over the three day weekend. 

Exhibits in all areas were all of the high quality that the fair is renowned for. Outside the same quality and pride was also obvious in the many animal shows and competitions.  The decent weather helped the Saturday classic car show break its own record as one of the biggest ever at the fair with vehicles coming from far and wide. Old and familiar standbys such as the heavy horse draw, antique tractors, EIEIO petting barn, and the Lawn Mower Races all continued to be crowd pleasers drawing large crowds of spectators. The sheep dog demonstrations and sheep shearing demonstrations both continue to be very popular, attracting large audiences for each performance. The observant fair goer may have noticed that one barn was closed up this year; this is the sight of the fairs Poultry Show. The popular gathering of clucking chickens, quaking ducks and honking geese was the one attraction that was missing this year; although it was by no fault of the fair board, the cancellation was unfortunately due to an increase in a strain of avian influenza, causing the Office of the Chief Veterinarian for Ontario to issue orders at the end of September that restricted the movement of fowl in the province. 

The fairs annual guess the weight contest was a little different this year, instead of guessing the weight visitors need to try and identify a “treasure chest” of items that you might find on a farm (both past and present).  The committee in charge will be a little while going through the thousands of entries before they can make a drawing from all the correct guesses.

Local county and municipal government officials spoke during the opening ceremonies congratulating the phenomenal crew of volunteers that had waited out the closure and returned once again to organize the fairs return. Fair President Krista Tweedie also spoke highly of the board, the volunteers and secretary manager Paul Quinlan for holding everything together and ensuring a successful return and concluded by encouraging everyone to take in and enjoy everything the fair had to offer.

Norwood’s Stanley family was chosen to open the 2022 fair. This long standing local family came to the area in the early 1970s establishing a still thriving dairy operation. Shelia Stanley and her late husband Harry were involved with the fair early on; Harry was an exhibitor and supporter of the dairy show, Shelia was involved with Homecraft, serving as president and judge (and a district judge) over the years and continues to provide support for the show today. Their sons learned by example and also became involved with the fair, one son Mark even became the youngest person to become the fair president when he served in 1990-91. Mark is also well known for contributing his auctioneer skills for the fairs annual steer competition and sale. Mark and his wife Suzie have continued the tradition and have passed their love for fair and community on to their own children and now grandchildren, their sons have both been involved in dairy and goat shows and one son Evan now serves on the board as a director. Evan’s young son Jackson is also learning the importance of agriculture, family and community having also exhibited in the junior shows; a proud history of farming for four generations and counting.      

The theme this year was “Autumn Treasures” an appropriate choice for an event that the village certainly does treasure. For the town of Norwood their annual fair has been part of the community fabric for over a century and a half. What started as a small gathering of local farmers and villagers in the mid 1800’s has evolved into a world class “Good Ol’ Country Fair” that attracts visitors from across Ontario, Quebec, the States and beyond; quite an accomplishment for a town that isn’t even listed on the local television stations weather map. That is okay though, I think the board had done a good job of putting themselves on the map. 

It is a truly an amazing group of hundreds of people, who come from all walks of life and from all neighbouring towns and villages whose cumulative efforts make the fair happen. The fair is “the heart of the community” as one past president put it; however it is the heart and the dedication of the volunteers that make it that way.