CARP – The rain came, then went, and the 156th Carp Fair kicked off with lots of things to do and many people to thank.
At one end of the fair, the bleachers were packed full with tons more fans standing nearby, the rain would keep the dust down and the popular Ontario Demolition Derby returned for its second year at the fair.
Just inside the front gates, kids of all ages were flooding in to the Roberson Amusements Ltd. midway to take advantage of $2 ride night.
And on the other side of the main horse ring, inside the show barn, hundreds gathered to take part in the Carp Fair’s Homecoming.
It was a roast beef dinner provided by Arnprior’s Valley Roots, a social hour, a coming together of board members, volunteers, sponsors, neighbouring fair organizers, friends and family. It was a chance to say thank you for all the hard work that has been done, and an official kick off to the biggest and busiest event of the year.
After introducing the 35-member board and bringing them to the stage, Homecraft President Martha Palmer asked everyone who was a past president to stand up (nearly 30 people did); volunteers at the fair to stand up; everyone who sponsors the fair to stand up; and everyone who has a friend or family member who helps at the fair to stand up. Everyone in the hall, a few hundred for sure, was standing.
“Look around this room and see how many people it takes to make this fair happen,” Palmer said.
Some 900 volunteers are expected to help out at the fair this weekend.
Palmer also listed off the neighbouring fairs who had representation at Homecoming including Chesterville, Metcalfe, Navan, Richmond, Russell, Shawville, Spencerville, Renfrew, Vankleek, Williamston and the Capital Fair.
“We appreciated the support of all the fairs who know the challenges of running a fair in 2019,” Palmer said.
“It’s a great honour to be up here to thank all the volunteers,” Agriculture President Doug Norton said. “Let’s have a moment of silence for all those who aren’t with us tonight.”
Homecoming is also an opportunity to present three of the Carp Fair’s most prestigious awards.
The Meritorious Service Award is awarded by the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies on the recommendation of the Carp Agricultural Society for meritorious service to agriculture. Recipients are deemed to have made a valuable contribution to one or more aspects of the agricultural life of the community. This year’s recipient is Deborah Mohr-Caldwell.
The Role of Honour, Distinguished Service Award is presented from the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, in recognition of long-time service to the fair by an individual. This year it went to Carp Fair past president Lorne Montgomery.
“I sure didn’t expect this,” Montgomery said to which an audience member yelled jokingly “oh, you don’t have to make a speech.”
“Everyone have a great time and the sun is going to shine all Carp Fair long,” Montgomery concluded.
The Wallace Armstrong Memorial Award, in memory of Wallace Armstrong, is presented to someone who exemplifies agricultural awareness through leadership and enthusiastic involvement and has enriched the lives of exhibitors, local fairs and communities and is sponsored by the Arnprior Region Federation of Agriculture.
This year the Wallace Armstrong Award went to past president Jolene Dixon. Dixon wasn’t present that night as she was getting her kids ready for the agriculture show, but husband Jason Nicholson, a long-time board member accepted the award on her behalf.
“But Homecoming is about sitting, mingling and chatting,” Norton said.
In true rural fashion and in accordance with the time of year, Norton chose the first table to hit the buffet line by picking the table with the best turkey call.
“Now we have a barn full of turkeys,” Palmer. “Here’s to Carp Fair 2019.”