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Turnout down for this year’s Vermilion Fair

The Heritage Day long weekend was a busy one out Vermilion way.

The town held its annual fair, hosted by the Vermilion Agricultural Society, which included rides, food vendors, trades fair, a tractor pull, chuck wagons, a parade, ag shows, and machinery display.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn’t entirely cooperate for the festivities. First Vice President of the Vermilion Ag Society, and Incoming President, Jay Sinclair says rain delayed the tractor pulls by 3 hours on Saturday.

“A lot of people were actually there from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 waiting for them to start. So that was good to see: a lot of dedicated fans. What we did end up pushing back was the chariots, but it didn’t really affect too many things, other than we were unable to have the heavy horse show on the Saturday.”

In fact, the heavy horse show had to be cancelled all together, but Sinclair says attendees were very understanding, given the circumstances. And although the rain didn’t significantly affect the actual procession of events and activities, it likely contributed to the fair’s lower than expected turnout. According to Sinclair, the fair normally brings in an average of about 25,000 people over the 3 days.

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“I would say the weather is the biggest thing because attendance stayed very steady Thursday-Friday…was a norm where we’ve sat in the last few years, and then Saturday was really where we took the hits. We were down 10 to 15 per cent, but I haven’t got the exact final numbers yet.”

This year was the fair’s 110th anniversary and according to Sinclair, the biggest draw for the fair this year was likely the modified tractors show, and then the chuck wagons, in terms of entertainment. He also said that a major selling feature of the fair is the $5 gate admission, which covers costs for everything from chariots to the tractor pulls, the chuck wagons, the petting zoo, the machinery display, the trades fair, to all the shows: light horses, cattle, heavy horse.

What may come as a surprise to attendees is the the Ag Society really just continues to put the fair on for the people, with the goal of breaking even. Sinclair says the fair hasn’t been making the society any money.

“It costs us to have the tractor pulls; it costs us to have the chuck wagons come in. So with our grants being down, we’re really not making any money at all at this present time, but a lot of the money that is made from the fair just stays in the community: whether it’s a church group or a school group that has a concession, or bottle cleanup, or anything like that where the money seems to stay.”

And even though the fair has wrapped up, the work just starts all over again for the Society. Sinclair says the Society has countless members and over 30 different committees so planning is an ongoing process.

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