South River Machar holding COVID-safe fall fair this Saturday

·3 min read

The South River Machar Agricultural Society Fall Fair is back this year after being cancelled by COVID-19 last year.

However, Dale D'Allaire, the president of the agricultural society, says the event is smaller than a traditional fall fair because of the ongoing presence of COVID.

“We wanted to see where the (COVID) numbers were going and we wanted to get all our ducks lined up with the health unit,” D'Allaire said.

“We thought it was important to show the community that we were still active behind the scenes.”

D'Allaire says there will still be live in-person events going on at the local fairgrounds, but also virtual events were created because of COVID.

Among the virtual events are a 'Get Up' dance competition for all ages where individuals, family, friends, as well as business, volunteer and professional groups, put together a dance video and their efforts are judged virtually.

There also will be virtual judging for baking, photography and crafts competitions.

Another aspect to this year's mini fair and exhibition is creating displays that will be judged by individuals driving by people's properties.

D'Allaire says four categories make up this component and they are a scarecrow competition, Hay Bale art where 80 percent of the materials used must be from bales of hay, putting together a wooden block quilt and the best decorated fall driveway.

The organizing committee says the virtual and online contests received more than two dozen entries.

Considering participants only had a few weeks to get their submissions in, the society is calling the public effort a success.

This year's fall fair was a last minute decision.

D'Allaire says normally, the society takes a full year to organize the event but that wasn't the case this year with COVID still a factor.

The board members met in early July to talk about how to put on a fall fair.

D'Allaire suggested that part of the fair be virtual, which resulted in the various categories for this year's events.

He adds when the board decided to move forward with a fall fair, even though it was smaller than past fairs, “we all hit the ground running and all board members worked extremely hard.”

This Saturday's fall fair will be the 138th year for the agricultural society.

The South River Machar Arena and Fairgrounds will be the site for live, in-person events. Vendors also will be onsite.

Normally, an admission is charged to the fairgrounds but D'Allaire says this year, vendors and the public are instead asked to bring one or more food items for the local food bank.

Fairground events include a horse show and western games. Plus, there's a square dance planned.

As well, the South River Machar and Trout Creek agricultural societies are holding a fundraiser for both organizations.

Food is available onsite, including corn on the cob.

All of the events have the approval of the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit.

In instances where events bring people closer than two metres, masks will be required even though the event is outdoors.

This will especially be the case as people gather in close proximity in the market stalls.

The society will have masks available in case you forget to bring one along.

D'Allaire says the intent is to make the fall fair COVID-safe, and the hope is next year's fair is a return to a normal and more traditional event.

This Saturday's mini fall fair and exhibition runs from 10 am to 3 pm.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget

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