Ontario’s only remaining school fair at Central Manitoulin Public School marks 106 years

Grade 3 student Spencer Johnston of Providence Bay won first prize with his entry in the grow a gigantic pumpkin category.

MINDEMOYA—There is a tradition in Mindemoya that is 106 years-old. The year 1912 saw students and teachers involved in the first fall fair activities that Central Manitoulin Public School (CMPS) pupils, staff and volunteers continue to this day. This is the only school fall fair in Ontario and is a highly anticipated event every September.

The occasion is held mainly in the arena and the day before the fair opens to the public, the students and parents display artwork done by all grades, and judges carefully peruse  this and every other entry on display while the helpers mark down the names of the winners and place stickers. Judges this year included Wilfred Holmes of Manitowaning, Aggie Cutherson of Providence Bay, Theresa Webb of Spring Bay, and Carol Gilmore of Mindemoya. Lending a helping hand was Bernice Lewis, Joan Ralph, Marg Elliot, and Eva Bond of Mindemoya as well as Carol Dewar of Providence Bay.

The success of the exhibition would not be complete without the work of the judges and the fair committee. Headed by Principal David Wiwichar, the team consists of Carol Gilmore, Marie Kirk, Ellen Ferguson, Doreen Duncanson, Julie Byers and Irene Musqetier-Dewar. Some of the members have been involved with this yearly event for a long time, with Ms. Kirk starting in 1979, Ms. Byers in 2009, and Ms. Duncanson volunteering for many years. Lyle and Sharon Dewar of Providence Bay have volunteered for this event too for quite a long time, and their specialty is providing and decorating a large float for the annual parade. Mr. Dewar is also a member of The Islanders, a group that plays in many venues throughout the year. At the fair, these gentlemen are on hand to provide music, both in the arena and then again at the school for the close of fair activities. And no fair would be complete without the presence of the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) trustee Larry Killens, who always has high praise for the teachers, volunteers, parents, and especially the students.

The entries in the fairs are many. There were vegetables, including beets, potatoes, kohlrabi, zucchini and a very large pumpkin grown by grade three student Spencer Johnston of Providence Bay. Other categories included sunflowers, cookies, items made of wood, candles, flowers, cupcakes, posters, handmade jewellery and more.

Many of the students had several entries in the fair. Autumn Davy of Mindemoya, who is in Grade 5, won first prize for her poster but had also won more prizes with her cookies, candle entry, homemade toy and apples. Nicholas Keller won first prize for the green tomato, large size, and also had decorated cupcakes and Rice Krispies entries. Madeline Keller took home a first for her leaf collection, and she too had cupcakes on display. Dania Skippen, of Little Current, attends CMPS, and she took first prize for her handmade jewellrey and had also entered chocolate chip cookies. Grade 4 student Eric Wahl entered the homemade from wood, not a kit, category and won first prize for his bee house.

Ellen Clarke-Zinkie, a Grade 4 student who lives in Mindemoya, also won a first prize for her vegetable creation, a vehicle, while Ellen Duncanson won for the family project with an object related to your heritage. She showed a painting from 1924 and mentioned that, at one time, her great-grandmother had taught school on the West End. Also entering an exhibit this year was Ava Corbiere of M’Chigeeng whose sunflower was by far the tallest of that particular entry.

The second day of the fair always has a parade from the school with all the students from CMPS to the arena. Leading the procession this year was OPP Community Officer Marie Ford, followed by the Central Manitoulin fire truck and ambulance.

And a fitting end every year for the CMPS fall fair, after all the hard work, the presentation of entries, the dog and plane competitions and the judging of animals, is the feast, held back at the school for everyone.