PROVIDENCE BAY – The Providence Bay Fair is entering its 137th year, a year not likely seen since the fair’s 35th anniversary when the Spanish Flu raged through the nation. That was in 1918, but this year a global pandemic has not dampened this fair board’s spirits and the fair will continue with many events, both virtual and live, all while respecting public health guidelines.
Dawn Dawson, Providence Bay Fair secretary/treasurer, said the fair board was busy the moment the pandemic hit, with members putting their heads together to ensure that the fair’s proud tradition would continue, just in a new and different way.
For those who have grown sunflowers this year, if you have yet to register for Adam’s Sunflower Challenge, in memory of the late Adam McDonald, a long-time fair board member and Providence Bay farmer, you have until Thursday, August 20. There are two categories: largest sunflower and best overall sunflower display. Cash prizes! To register email email@example.com or call Ms. Dawson at 705-377-5003.
The board came up with several unique ideas to engage audiences of all ages, keeping the fair’s traditions alive, just with a virtual twist. While we will miss meandering through the large exhibition barn at the fairground, admiring quilts and crafts, breads and more, this year these items can all be viewed from the safety of home. The fair board received 103 exhibits from children and over 175 from the general population!
On Friday, August 21, the virtual exhibit hall winners will be announced with their works displayed on the fair website starting at noon, ProvidenceBayFair.ca. Also at this time, three Junior Fair Ambassadors will also be announced, one for each age category. Those who enter as many exhibits to the virtual hall as they can will be awarded points. Those youngsters with the most points will earn the title of Junior Fair Ambassador and will serve alongside Avery Sheppard, the 2019 Fair Ambassador who will continue in her role for 2020 and attend the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto next summer on behalf of the Providence Bay Fair.
The fair’s Facebook page is well worth a look too. Fun contests on the lead-up to the fair have included best farmers’ tan (won by Keith Guy) and the very popular family look-alike contest and boy, there are some uncanny similarities!
Friday night has also been deemed Bingo night, with kids’ farm bingo at 7 pm followed by traditional bingo at 8 pm featuring special guests (think long-time fair emcee Norm Morell) and prizes. To obtain your free card, email Angela Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the bingo, opening ceremonies will kick off. Stay tuned for an online presentation. The bingos and opening ceremonies will be held on all the fair’s platforms, Facebook, Instagram and the website.
On Saturday, the Providence Bay Fair is bringing back its famed parade, but with a unique twist. This year the floats will be stationary, the cars will drive through! The parade will begin at the fairgrounds at 11 am and will run until 1:30 pm. Right at 11 am, a piper will lead the first drivers through. Manitoulin Kettle Corn will be on-site selling popcorn and refreshments for those passersby and Providence Bay sons ‘The Islanders’ will also be on their own float for some traditional fair entertainment. A reminder that there is no stopping and everyone must remain in their vehicle. There’s still time to enter you float too! Email Bev McDermid at
At 8 pm, at the fairgrounds, viewers can look forward to this year’s video submissions to Manitoulin’s Got Talent on the big screen! Before the drive-in double feature, hosted by Horizon Drive-In (‘Charlotte’s Web’ followed by ‘Footloose’), the contestants of Manitoulin’s Got Talent will be screened for the audience.
To purchase your drive-in movie tickets, visit HorizonDriveIn.com. Tickets are $15 per person and $10 for kids under 12.
The signature event on Sunday, August 22 is the Family Amazing Race. Families (which can include work families, friend families or traditional families) must register by contacting Ms. Dawson at either email@example.com or by calling her at 705-377-5003 and show up at the fairgrounds Sunday morning at 10 am. The ‘families’ will then be drawn from a hat with each given a clue as to where they must first appear. Once they figure out the clue and arrive at the spot (somewhere in Central Manitoulin) they will be given a task that will be judged for points.
“The points are based on a task, not about speed, and it’s all about COVID-19 guidelines,” Ms. Dawson said.
Ms. Dawson said a family unit must not be less than three and a maximum of one vehicle and as many allowable by seatbelt laws. The Family Amazing Race will also count toward Family Fun Trophy points, with the trophy to be awarded at 3 pm at the fairgrounds.
The Providence Bay Fair board must be commended for their hard work and determination in creating another phenomenal fair for Manitoulin, despite the pandemic. For more information see the full-page spread on Pages 14 and 15 of this newspaper.
See you at the fair!