by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

For many years I remember passing the old Barrie Fair on our way to the family cottage. The Fair was located just off of the 400 highway on Essa Road. I was disappointed when I saw that they had torn down the buildings to make way for new development. I had never visited the Fair, but I remember the day that I noticed that it wasn’t there any more and that the new development was happening. I wondered what had happened.

Over the past few years we started working with the fair and started promoting the Barrie Fair at their temporary location. I can remember talking with our contact about the temporary location in Cookstown and that they had purchased new fair grounds and were developing them. I resolved that once the new Fairgrounds was up and running that I was going to visit it. That happened this year when Judi and I received an invitation to attend opening day ceremonies.

It was a hot sunny summer day, with the wind blowing at a steady rate. Under normal circumstances this would be a good thing on a hot day, but for Judi, there were certain challengers. Because of the warmth of the day, Judi decided to wear a short summer skirt and open toed sandals.

As Judi writes … As we arrived at the Barrie Fair on a hot summer day; we parked not too far from the main entrance. I was “prepared” for the weather conditions. I adorned a short flowing skirt that was “cool”, my Ontario Visited blouse, comfortable “flip flops”, and lots of fresh sunscreen lathered on my legs. Not two minutes into our walk to the fair entrance we found ourselves walking across a dry dirt field. The wind started to blow, sand flew all around. My skirt flew up in the air (all day long). And, unfortunately, my freshly sun screened lathered legs were covered in dirt and sand. I tried to rub the dirt off only I managed to ingrain the dirt into my skin more.  My feet looked like I had not bathed in months … Lesson Learned!

Fortunately much of the new fairgrounds was either paved or graveled, so once we entered the exhibit areas the wind and dust weren’t much of a factor. It was “Kid’s Day” at the fair and there was plenty for them to see and do. “Dan the Music Man” performed on a stage, He sang, danced, and encouraged the kids to join in… Hula Hoops competition, dancing competition and more.

The petting zoo area kept the kids busy for a long time while the educational stations had lots of crafts and fun learning tools for everyone. “Circus Jonathan” took over after that and then the kids enjoyed “Yvette & Puppets”.

Today at the fair was the Holstein Show and competitions. The large ring had plenty of seating for viewing and was open to the fresh air while still being covered by the big top building.

It seemed we just couldn’t break ourselves away from this area as the cattle were so magnificent and majestic. We wandered through the grounds of the fair exploring the midway, musical entertainment, vendors and more.

In the afternoon, the official 160th Barrie Fair opening ceremonies were held. Dignitaries were marched in on tractors then led into the arena by a lone bag piper.

Speeches were made and refreshments were served. We look forward to returning another year to enjoy more of the fun and excitement!

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