Through the years I have been to my share of agricultural exhibitions and county fairs. I have been to large ones like The Royal in Toronto, the Maritime Fall Fair in Halifax and SuperEx in Ottawa. Heck, I have even visited a few state fairs in the United States which were of a decidedly grand nature. Equally, I have been to numerous events with a more intimate feeling like the Dundas Plowing Match in PEI, the Chesterville Fair in Ontario and the Digby County Exhibition in Bear River to name but a few. In fact, many of my most poignant childhood memories involve our annual trips to the PEI Provincial Exhibition (Old Home Week) in Charlottetown. I can clearly remember trying to help my grandfather groom his cattle, watching as he judged the poultry, hanging around the racetrack and generally getting under-foot. I have spent my time on the midway, eaten the cotton candy, stepped in the round brown objects left by the horses and even competed in a couple of the show rings. With this as the background, my two children and I made a trip to the Annapolis Valley Exhibition in Lawrencetown earlier today.
If it doesn't go without saying, the Exhibition is usually a highlight of my summer. I love being able to introduce my kids to the sights and smells that you can only encounter at this sort of event. Admittedly, not all of these smells are pleasant but, they are smells that are worth encountering once in a while. I equally enjoy being able to mingle with the animals as we ambled through the stables. Unless you work with horses how often do you get to stop, pet a horse's nose and wander on? Personally I would answer not often enough.
When you think of it, there are few places where heritage meets the modern day quite as directly as a county fair. Fairs are often a time to demonstrate progress in agriculture but, many of the events and activities have a decidedly old time feel. Earlier today I chuckled when I saw the young lady who had just been driving a horse drawn wagon hop off to check her cell phone. Once she had sent a message back to someone, she unhitched her horse and led it away. I wonder how long it will take for that cell phone to become a display in the agricultural museum at the Exhibition grounds.
A new experience for me was the mild feeling of terror as I watched our 6 year old on one of the "grown up" midway rides. This is one of the rides that comes equipped with a hose in case there are inadvertent mishaps. As it climbed into the sky and spun around, I was left helplessly wondering if the operator had secured the harness safely and envisioning a small body getting tossed out. When the ride was over, I was greeted by a child with glowing eyes telling me "That was WILD". Wild indeed! The Annapolis Valley Exhibition will be going on until August 21.
All for now