TORONTO—Mackenzie Gilmore, 2015 Providence Bay Ambassador of the Fair, represented Manitoulin Island proudly at the 45th annual Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) Ambassador of the Fairs competition this past weekend in Toronto.
Mackenzie, specifically representing the Providence Bay Agricultural Society, competed against 73 other fair ambassadors from agricultural societies across Ontario.
Since its inception in 1971, more than 3,000 youths from 100 communities throughout Ontario have taken part in the CNE Ambassador of the Fairs event. The year-long title takes the winner across Ontario as a representative of the CNE and all agricultural fairs. The winner also receives $3,500, while the top seven contestants receive cash prizes as well.
Although Mackenzie wasn’t selected as this year’s overall ambassador, she said she had an “amazing experience.”
“It was a really great weekend,” 18-year-old Mackenzie told The Expositor on Monday. “It was a lot of fun.”
She said the pageant ran from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon. The weekend included seminars, participating in local Mardi Gras parades, one-on-one interviews with judges, interacting with the CNE crowds and the pageant at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
“I went into my interview with just the right amount of nervous energy and it went really well,” said Mackenzie. “The interviews with the judges were about four minutes. They asked me what I would want to show them if they came to my fair and my favourite experience at the CNE. I responded that I would show them the Providence Bay Fair exhibit hall. A lot of work goes into the exhibits and it doesn’t get as much attention as the midway, but it deserves to be appreciated.”
During the pageant Mackenzie, along with the other contestants, took turns walking up the aisle to the stage and stating their name and what agricultural society they represented. Based on their presentation and interviews ahead of time, seven contestants were selected to deliver their speech and then it was narrowed down to three to answer a question on the spot.
The 2016 Ambassador of the Fairs was Amy Natyshak representing the Comber Agricultural Society. The first runner up was Kayla Veldman of the Stratford and District Agricultural Society, while the second runner up was Myra Kiezebrink of the Suderland Agricultural Society. The Congeniality Award was presented to Mikayla Clark of the Arthur Agricultural Society.
“The competition was pretty tough,” Mackenzie said. “The top seven all really deserved it. They had the right attitude and were all really involved in their communities and came from farming backgrounds.”
Mackenzie is going into her fifth year at Manitoulin Secondary School and hopes to attend Nipissing University next year for social work or environmental science.
In her spare time Mackenzie enjoys music, kayaking and hanging out with friends.
The CNE runs until Monday, September 5. For a full list of events or to purchase tickets, visit www.theex.com.