by Alicia McCutcheon and Warren Schlote
PROVIDENCE BAY—It was a warmer than usual opening night for the 135th Providence Bay Fair, so much so that master of ceremonies Norm Morrell noted that this was the first time in his decades as fair emcee that he has not worn a blazer on stage.
Following a round of applause for the many volunteer hands that help make the fair happen, Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha got on stage to say a few words.
“It’s 135 folks—that’s history in the making,” the MPP said. “You can hold yourselves with great pride.”
Jack White, president of the fair board, welcomed all to the 135th Providence Bay Fair.
“It’s a great honour to be erect again for another year,” he joked. “Our motto this year was ‘doing more with less,’ which was a challenge.”
Mr. White thanked all the directors, associate directors and volunteers that made the fair a reality.
Dawn Dawson, president of the Providence Bay Agriculture Association, spoke of the new-this-year hay structure competition. Winners of the yard display category were first, the Duxbury family and second, the Young family. Winners of the hay structure contest were first, the McDermid family and second, the Noland family.
The Jr. King and Queen, Parker Johnston and Ayriss Noble-Stone, were then called to the stage and crowned. The youngsters collected the most points in the fair display competition.
On Saturday morning, families and local groups gathered along the Munro Street parade staging area, putting the finishing touches on their floats and chatting with their marching companions.
The procession included the Sudbury and District Pipe Band, community groups like the Shriners, family fun float entries, emergency services, farmers, horse and pony riders and the newly-crowned 2018 Providence Bay Fair Ambassador April Torkopoulos of Gore Bay. First runner-up Janessa Lee of South Baymouth sat next to her.
There was a bit of unexpected excitement during the parade. Mike McCulligh was riding his horse up the street when it spooked, reared, and fell over backwards onto him. Onlookers rushed to help, but undeterred, Mr. McCulligh dusted himself off and rose to his feet. He walked his horse the rest of the way into the fairgrounds and went on to win awards in the competitions throughout the day.
The Expositor asked Mr. McCulligh if he wanted to talk about what had happened.
“What’s there to talk about?” he laughed. “There always has to be some excitement every year, and I guess I was the one providing that this year.”
The exhibit hall had six rows of tables that displayed everything from children’s artwork to Christmas goods to intricate quilting.
Carol Dewar of Providence Bay took first prize in the largest pumpkin category for her massive entry that had the words “Prov Fair 2018” grown into its rind.
Maggie Hrytsak from Spring Bay took first prize in the cacti plant category for her prickly entry with a beautiful flower blooming at the top.
Attendees filled the outdoor stands to watch the popular horse pull competition that started just after 3 pm on Saturday afternoon. Eight teams entered the competition, with five light teams and three heavy teams. Announcer Carol Gilmore made note that two teamsters were female, and two other teams were pulling for their first time.
Jerrold Webkamigad won the light class with his new team Frank (1,550 pounds) and Britt (1,525 pounds) that pulled 8,750 pounds the full 20 feet. Katie Cyr took second place; horses Charlie (1,750 pounds) and Jake (1,650 pounds) pulled 8,750 pounds 13 feet. In third place was Kevin Gilbert’s team of Ben (1,665 pounds) and Peanut (1,485 pounds) that pulled 8,750 pou Photo by mnds 16 inches.
In the heavy class, Jerome Pheasant’s Jack (2,025 pounds) and Pete (1,800 pounds) pulled 9,500 pounds nine feet and five inches to win the category. Brenden Gilbert took second place with horses Dan (1,735 pounds) and Sam (1,725 pounds) pulling 9,500 pounds eight feet and nine inches. First-time teamster Preston Webkamigad earned a respectable third place finish when his horses Tim (1,800 pounds) and Roy (1,850 pounds) pulled 8,750 pounds 18 feet and six inches.
Family fun trophy events took place throughout the fair. Six families entered for their chance at the trophy: The Dawsons, Dewars, Duxburys, McDermids, Nolands and Youngs. The competition got off to a strong start: Each family scored a perfect 10 points on the hay bale structure. After the hay bale maze and pie eating contest, the Duxbury family took the lead with an accumulated 26 points. All teams scored six points or better for their float entries, but the Duxburys’ tough luck at the tug-o-war and relay race dropped them back into a tie for second place with the Young family. The Dewars did exceptionally well at both the tug-o-war and relay, shooting them into first place with a two-point lead.
When the final scores had been counted, a winner emerged: The Young family. Although the competition was very tough and the Youngs got off to a slow start, they proved themselves up to the challenge in the end. Providence Bay business Manitoulin Meat Boss sponsored this year’s family fun trophy.