By Mike Anderson
With big crowds at the midway and demolition derby, and long lineups at the beer tent, it was clear people were eager to return to normal and enjoy themselves at the Sutton Fair and Horse Show over the weekend.
According to Jason Kay, President of the Sutton Agricultural Society, attendance was up from 2019, the last full-scale fair, with nearly 12,000 patrons crossing the gates. Saturday was the biggest day, contributing 50 per cent of the total.
Kay says the attendance might have been even better, but the hot temperatures — Saturday and Sunday were over 30 C — probably kept some people away, especially seniors and parents with infants.
“It was a big welcome back,” said Jaclyn Grossi, 1st Vice President. “The stands were full; people were standing. I think everyone was just happy to be out. We pre-sold all the admission gate passes for the first time ever.”
“It was like Covid never happened,” said Kay. “The fair has always been the biggest event in Georgina. So it’s nice to get back to a little bit of normal after two years of not having it.”
“I spent a lot of time running around the fair with our ambassadors as the chair of that committee, and just seeing everyone back out was so nice, just like my memory of every other fair,” added Emma Somerville, 2nd Vice President.
Despite the packed fairgrounds, Kay says it was challenging to put on this year’s event because of the late start.
“It was a bit rushed because it wasn’t until April or May that we were even sure we could do it. And by that time, it was hard to get volunteers,” he said.
“Some of our previous volunteers are a couple of years older and have a different lifestyle now. They weren’t interested in doing what they normally did.”
Don’t tell that to Joe Vaessen, 91, who lives in Jackson’s Point.
Vaessen was happy the fair was back. He always looks forward to volunteering at the Knight’s of Columbus’ kitchen, cleaning and cutting hundreds of pounds of potatoes for their famous fries.
Vaessen says the organization hopes to donate $5,000 from sales to local charities, including two Catholic Churches, Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Keswick and Immaculate Conception in Sutton.
“I’m always ridiculously proud of the volunteers who show up and do the work,” Grossi said.
“It’s nice for them to see it come together on these four days, and it sort of puts a smile on your face.”
The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
Jaclyn’s parents, Rob and Carolyn Grossi, have run their pizza charity fundraiser, featuring pizza from Keswick’s Quick Pizza, during the Saturday night demolition derby since 2001.
This year the fundraiser was sponsored by realtors Wayne Winch and Brenda Brouwer, allowing more funds to go to Georgina Community Living and Hospice Georgina.
This year’s fair – the 165th edition – attracted a lot of folks from out of town.
“I’ve been here every year for probably the past five or six years,” said Tara Webster from the Kawarthas, whose son loves the Magic Carpet ride and Ferris wheel.
“We always have it in our calendar for this weekend. We always look forward to it. It’s the only summer community fair that we go to.”
“The kids are having a blast on the rides,” said David Denov, who brought his family from Toronto.
“We’re glad that they do it. It’s something to look forward to every year, just to come up and see some local crafts and the livestock show. The live music was also great.”
Those who live in Georgina were also happy to be at the fair.
“We’ve always enjoyed coming as a family, and we had missed it the last couple of years,” said Amanda Gordon from Belhaven, who, together with her mother Debbie Gordon, co-owns Cloverhill Flowers.
Amanda and Debbie recently hosted a children’s day event at their farm and helped kids enter their floral arrangements at the fair.
Amanda also helped her kids enter several of the home craft competitions.
“We entered lots of entries in the junior arts and crafts and vegetable sections. And we have a flower farm, so they entered some of their flowers, and we had fun doing that. But of course, they loved the rides,” she said.
“We also saw Zoo To You, and the kids got to hold a big python.”
“We’re just glad to have it back and excited to see people coming together again for it.”
The first Sutton Fair was in 1855 and was originally a one-day event in October.
The Sutton Agricultural Society runs the fair and owns the fairgrounds.
Planning for the 2023 Sutton Fair and Horse Show will begin soon, and the society is looking for volunteers. For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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