PROVIDENCE BAY – Even after 136 years, the annual Providence Bay Fair continues to expand and provide new events that all members of the family can enjoy, as well as providing the many tried and true events and activities that keeps bringing thousands of local residents and visitors back every year. As evidence of the popularity of the annual fair, a new event, the soap box derby, drew 100 children of all ages taking part last Friday evening.
“It is a pleasure to be here and to be able to welcome all of you to the 136th Providence Bay Fall Fair,” said Norm Morrell, master of ceremonies at the opening of the fair.
Richard Stephens, mayor of Central Manitoulin, said, “it is always a pleasure to be here to greet all of you. I hope that everyone has a fantastic weekend.”
“Wow! 136 years of making people happy!” stated Carol Hughes, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP. “Providence Bay is certainly the place to be this weekend. I watched the soap box derby and it was pretty amazing.”
Ms. Hughes also provided greetings on behalf of Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha, and praised the board of directors of the fair and volunteers for their tireless efforts in organization and putting on the annual event.
President of the Providence Bay Fall Fair Jack White also welcomed everyone to the event.
“We have worked hard all year in putting this all together,” said Mr. White. “This is my opportunity to thank the directors of the association, the directors and volunteers. If it wasn’t for them we couldn’t do this.”
The night saw the naming of the Junior Queen and King, which were Bella Ferguson-Van Horn and Parker Johnston.
The exhibit hall held all kinds of entries, for things such as arts and crafts, quilting, baking, knitting, woodworking, flower, grain seeds, vegetables and the like.
Karlene Scott was master of ceremonies for the Fair Ambassador Competition again this year. The competition actually began in 1969 when it was first introduced as a Dairy Princess Competition, with the young ladies who competed required not only to give a speech but also milk a cow. In 1972 it was changed to a Fair Queen Pageant, where the girls were only required to give a speech and, in 1997, the title was changed to Fair Ambassador, opening the competition up to both young ladies and young men, she explained.
There were five competitors who took part in the ambassador competition: Summer Beaudin of M’Chigeeng who talked of her pride in Manitoulin and of the Ojibwe legends on how Manitoulin came to be; David Hall of Gordon/Barrie Island who spoke of farming and how climate change can effect this industry and how farming has changed over the years; Mackenzie Cortes of Little Current shared some of the reasons she is proud to live on the largest freshwater Island in the world; Avery Sheppard, who lives in Mindemoya and presented a speech on the history of Purvis Brothers Fishery, which started in the 1870s; and Kyra Bayer of M’Chigeeng who focused on the beauty of Manitoulin and why she is proud to call it home.
Avery Sheppard was named by the judges as the Providence Bay Ambassador of the Fair, with Mackenzie Cortes as the runner-up.
The midway by Albion Amusements, opened on Friday, with the kids zone kicking off with a bale maze race as part of the family fun trophy competition. As well, the Glendale Pony Rides and Petting Zoo was on hand, and there was a light horse show as well.
There were seven contestants in the messy pie eating contest, while the band The Islanders provided musical entertainment throughout the evening in the arena, which was also packed with vendors of all kinds.
After a delicious pancake breakfast at the community centre Saturday morning, the always fantastic parade was held in the late morning, with the theme, ‘Kids and Critters.’
The day included the judging of livestock, the exhibition hall, kids zone and a blacksmithing demonstration, tractor show and a performance by the Sudbury and District Pipe Band and musical entertainment by River Valley.
There was face painting at the kids zone, children’s races, and a tug of war and obstacle course race. In the evening, the Manitoulin’s Got Talent Show was held.
The heavy horse pull held allowed the fair board and agricultural society to remember one of their own, Adam McDonald, who passed away from cancer on June 9 of this year.
Announcer Carol Gilmore explained, “on June 9 we lost Adam McDonald, who for many years was the director of the horse pull. We would ask everyone to stand, and remove your hats for a moment of silence.” She noted that the horse pull was being held in his memory.
Ms. Gilmore noted that Adam’s wife had asked the fair do something in memory of him. Ms. Gilmore called horse puller Kevin Gilbert of Purple Valley forward and presented him a special close and pen to honour his many years of his dedication to the horse pulls at the fair.
The Greg Pyette team of Pike Lake took top spot in the heavy horse pull with his team pulling 12,000 pounds 14’ 9.” Wiikwemkoong’s Gerald Webkamigad and his team won the light horse division.
On Sunday, Kevin Gilbert and his horse Paint, who has never pulled before the weekend, pulled 4,750 pounds to win the single light horse pull.
Also on Sunday among other events, motocross races were held and a paper boat race was held, along with minnow races and live musical entertainment by the band ‘Cash.’
The Duxbury family won the Family Fun Trophy at this year’s fair.