SHEGUIANDAH—The high heat made the event feel more like a summer fair, but it did not stop crowds in the hundreds from attending the annual Sheguiandah Fall Fair, held Saturday, September 15 at the Centennial Museum.
“The biggest thing we want to see is smiles,” said Norma Hughson, who co-organized the fair alongside Lisa Hallaert, museum curator.
“Lots of friendship happens,” added Ms. Hallaert. “Lots of people run into old friends and family at this event.”
With a wide variety of activities, it was little wonder that so many people turned out for the annual fair, which was in its eighth year. This year’s theme was ‘something fishy’; Ms. Hughson said the theme was chosen by accident.
“We were throwing ideas out at a meeting,” she said. “Someone made a comment and we didn’t hear them correctly. We thought they said ‘something fishy’ and everyone jumped on it. I think it might have been Pat Julig.”
That fishy theme was best seen in the exhibit hall, where individuals had submitted photographs, artwork and sculptures both on-theme and in general categories.
Cole Hughson was a big winner at this year’s fair. All of his entries received some rank of ribbon, except one. The young Manitowaning student had a lot of competition from his peers; this year, the genealogy club reached out to schools to promote the fair. That drew a number of students to enter their crafts.
Lyn Valiquette and Marjorie Collie, co-convenors for the school program in the genealogy club, said 14 students entered the competition. They always try to get as many kids from around the Island as possible to increase the competition. They give out four trophies for the various age groups, along with a plaque for the highest number of points.
Next to the exhibit hall were a few indoor vendors and people showing off their artifacts around the halls of the museum. “Rock hound and prospector” Red Butler had a wide array of mineral samples on hand, along with a microscope to see the finer details of a few samples. There were more vendors outside, as well as a few situated inside the barn.
“When we first started there were no vendors, though we had some demos,” said Ms. Hughson. “That really has helped with participation.”
Marian Hester of Freshisle Fibers was one of the vendors on hand, along with her spouse Todd Bailey who was selling some of his photographs. All of their wool is made on Manitoulin and uses plant dyes for colour. This was their second time at the Sheg fair.
“We love it! There’s just wonderful people, and what a fantastic place. They do a great job,” said Ms. Hester.
George Williamson and Friends provided music throughout the day, with the ‘friends’ being Ed Landry and Tom Beamish. Live music and the popular barbecue have been fair staples since the first year, according to Ms. Hughson.
Reviews of the fair were positive. “I always come here because it’s my hometown,” said Elaine Peck, who still lives in the area. “You always meet people, friends, relatives that you haven’t seen for months or years. It’s just an awesome thing to do,” she said.
Ms. Hallaert noted that the entire fair is wheelchair accessible, because all the buildings are at ground level and the organizers save some parking right by the fair entrance for handicapped parking.
Organizers say they have high hopes for the future of the fair.
“We keep hoping it’ll grow,” said Ms. Hughson. “And it seems to be,” adds Ms. Hallaert. “This is only my third year and we’ve already noticed a difference.”