Norfolk Fair “something to cherish”

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The Norfolk County Fair is like a big family reunion where people who haven’t seen each other in a while come together to eat, play, have fun and catch up on what they’ve been missing.

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Such was the case on opening day Tuesday when thousands flocked to the Simcoe Fairgrounds, many for the first time in two years.

“It’s the time we spend with our friends and families that makes the fair special,” said Merv Dunlop, former president of the Norfolk Agricultural Society, which runs the fair, at the opening ceremony on Tuesday after- midday. “Something to cherish, to hold in our hearts and minds. Maybe first love on the Ferris wheel, or our last love on a park bench, watching your grandchildren’s big eyes dance and laugh the first time they see Bandaloni (the one-man band).

“It’s magic and it happens here, every year.”

It is the first “full fair” held since the pandemic hit in 2020, said Steve Balcomb, the agricultural society’s current president.

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“This year we are celebrating 182 years of heritage and tradition. I know that I am not the only one to say that the fair is an event that I always look forward to.

Balcomb talked about new additions to the fair, such as the Lounge 5 entertainment venue and the Fair Market which showcases local produce.

He made special mention of the Ag Awareness program which educates young people about agricultural products in the county. The program, now in its 30e year, was recently inducted into the Norfolk Agricultural Hall of Fame.

“We are so proud of this program and its evolution to continue to educate and entertain young people of all ages, highlighted by the Grade 4 school curriculum.

Haldimand-Norfolk MP Bobbi Ann Brady, guest speaker at the opening ceremony, shared her own memories of coming to the fair.

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“Growing up in the area, I have fond memories of coming to the fair with my class, my elementary grades, where we toured the barns, craft building, and young farmers building.”

Young Canada Day, however, is a favorite.

“My first Young Canada party as a Raider DDSS was in 1989. As part of the Raider Cheerleading Team, I arrived on the track pom poms in hand, butterflies in my stomach and a fierce desire for my school to be at the top of this ranking. And we were.

Brady’s alma mater, Delhi District Secondary School, won its 11e consecutive title of Young Canada Day champion on Tuesday.

“Young Canada Day was my favorite part of the fair,” she said. “It’s a unique tradition that other communities are absolutely envious of.”

An estimated 120,000 people are expected to attend this year’s fair which ends on Thanksgiving Day.

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