Fall fair celebrates homecrafters, agriculture

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The Great Northern Exhibition (GNE) encourages everyone to come out to the 166th fall fair Sept. 22-24. Hundreds of volunteers work all year long to pull off the three-day event held at the GNE fairgrounds in Clearview Township.

The theme for 2023 is Bounty from our County in recognition of the multitude of contributions to the fair from all over Simcoe County.

The volunteer-based society is “dedicated to the betterment of rural life by the qualitative improvement of all kinds of livestock, handicrafts, flowers and garden produce through the nurturing of a spirit of friendly competition.”

President Darlene Garratt, a Wasaga Beach resident, joined the Collingwood Agricultural Society in 2016 when she and her son came on as volunteers. A crocheter, Garratt said she did the craft circuit with her mom, who knits and crochets, and they now both enter work in the homecraft contests. Born and raised a city girl, Garratt said she learned very quickly about the inner workings of an agricultural society from the friendly community.

“Even just volunteering there, it’s a great experience,” she said. “There’s so much to see and we are working hard all the time to improve all the displays.”

Homecrafts is one of the biggest displays at the fair with crafters competing in quilting, preserving, baking, knitting and crochet, woodworking, cut flowers and fruits and vegetables, just to name a few.

The opening ceremonies are on the Friday night and include the ambassador contests and talent shows. The weekend offers pony rides and petting zoo.

Spectator favourites include the Friday night truck pulls, Saturday tractor pull, and Sunday demolition derby. There’s also a baby show, fiddle and step dance contest and live music.

A variety of livestock shows are key components to the fair with cattle, sheep, horses, ponies, poultry, pigeons, rabbits and waterfowl competitions throughout the weekend.

Although organizers had planned to host its annual education day on Friday it coincides with a PA day. Nevertheless, parents are encouraged to bring their school age children to the fairgrounds that day to take in the education stations that will be set up. Free passes have been distributed to area students in Grades 1-6.

Advanced reduced rate midway tickets and adult admission tickets are available at Creemore Foodland until Thursday, Sept. 21. Midway tickets cost $26, which is all you can ride for any one day, a $9 savings. Advance admission tickets are available for $10.

Regular admission at the gate costs $12 for those 13 and older, $4 for youth 6-12, and children five and under are admitted free. 4-H Members are admitted free with membership card. There is free parking on the GNE grounds, at 2220 Fairgrounds Rd. The fairgrounds are open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24.

For volunteer opportunities, email volunteer@greatnorthernex.com or call 705-444-0308.

For the full schedule and admission tickets, visit www. greatnorthernex. com.

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