Today’s stop on Scott’s Cambridge Listening Tour: The Cambridge Fall Fair organizers Chris and Yvonne!
The Cambridge Fall Fair is an amazing local tradition that has been going strong for 180 years, making it one of the longest-running fairs in the world. Something Cambridge residents should be proud of.
Running from Thursday, September 5th to the evening of Sunday, September 8th, the fair offers something for everyone in the family – from farm exhibits and school competitions to monster trucks, demo-derbies, midway rides, locally-brewed beer, and on Saturday: musical legends I MOTHER EARTH!
We all remember growing up and going to fairs with our family. It’s not just an event, but it’s the shaping of family and community memories that last a lifetime.
I sat down with volunteer organizers Chris and Yvonne to hear about the fair, how it’s pieced together over the year, and how it helps make Cambridge such an awesome place.
1) What is the Cambridge Fall Fair?
“There’s really something for everyone. It’s an event for all ages; a family fair. From 2 years old to the young at heart, there’s something here for you.
The fair is run by the South Waterloo Agricultural Society and it’s been going strong for 180 years. William Dickson, one of the pioneers of agriculture in our area, stated in his will that after he died, the park (Dickson Park) was to be used by the Agricultural Society, and so we get it for 2 weeks out of the year.
We’re now got school exhibits, 4H dairy cattle, an ‘Ambassador’ competition run through the Galt Legion (our winners go on to compete in Toronto at the CNE!), vendors and markets, demolition derbies, monster trucks, and much else. Saturday we have ‘I Mother Earth’ playing as our live entertainment, and on Sunday we have our chilli cookoff.
Ordinarily, 10,000 to 12,000 people move through the fairgrounds each year. Saturday’s the fair’s busiest day, while Sunday’s family day.
2) How is the fair organized?
It’s organized entirely by volunteers, and it’s a non-profit event. People steering the fair are those that really care about our community, about Cambridge. We have a small Board of Directors, and each person takes a lot on to make the fair happen.
We start planning for the summer’s event in January or February. The planning is insane, and now, we’re right at the end of it all. September comes and goes, and then we hide for a while!
The biggest component is coordinating Friday and Saturday night. From the demo-derby to the music, it takes a lot of time, effort, and volunteers.
3) This sounds like a lot of work. Why do you do it?
We want to give back to our community. We want to show the important role that agriculture still has in Cambridge, and that’s why we do things like work with RARE and organize the 4H cattle, so kids and people can learn where their food really comes from. It shows the important impact and role of farming even within our own city.
4) What are the difficulties faced by the fair?
Attracting volunteers is tough, especially when younger people are spending more time indoors and on their phones. Then, finding sponsorships! The more sponsorships we have, then the more we can provide to the public, and the less money we charge for admission.
6) There have been some pretty epic bands in recent years, and ‘I Mother Earth’ is a ‘90s gem. How do you get them?
Haha, that’s all Dave Gibbs. He knows people!
5) How can Cambridge residents help the Fall Fair succeed?
First, attend it with your family, and have fun. Second, we always need assistance in getting sponsorships. To be clear, we’re a non-profit fair, and so admission fees are necessary to pay for equipment, insurance, rides, etc. We don’t receive any money from the city. And it’s tough because we’re grandfathered in, so we have no charity #. And third, volunteering, and just having a great time here helping out your community, makes a big impact.
We’re a group of volunteers that love our community and want to put on a memorable event for our city. So come on down, bring your family, and have an amazing time.”
(For more information, check out https://www.thefallfair.ca)