Traditional parade a highlight of 138th Providence Bay Fair on upcoming weekend

Stock Photo

PROVIDENCE BAY – ‘Bushels, Bales and Tales’ is the name of the game as the 138th edition of the Providence Bay Fair gets underway this weekend.

This iteration of the fair is being touted as a ‘hybrid fair,’ with a mix of in-person and virtual events in store.

The fair will once again kick off this Friday night, August 20, by tuning in to the Providence Bay Fair’s Facebook or YouTube page at 7 pm. Expect to see some special guests to help mark the occasion. As part of the opening ceremonies, virtual bingo is back and bingo cards are available by emailing Angela Johnston at almjohnston@gmail.com but do it quickly, as supplies are limited! The bingo prize package is proudly sponsored by Buie’s Grocery.

This year the exhibit hall is not open to the public, but rest assured crafters, bakers, sewers and all-around talented Islanders have placed their wares up for judging, and those big winners will be announced this week too. Miss perusing the beautiful veggies and striking quilts? Take a 360° virtual tour of the exhibit hall online at ProvidenceBayFair.ca. This year’s top winners in the categories of chocolate chip cookies and posters (children) and butter tarts and quilts (adults) will move on to the regional championships.

On Saturday, August 21 stake your physically distanced place along Providence Bay’s main drag for the parade! That’s right, it’s back! The parade will get underway at 11:30 am. To register your float, contact Bev McDermid at 705-377-4668 or mcdermid@amtelecom.net. Prizes for top floats are proudly sponsored by Manitoulin Chrysler.

After the parade, head over to soapbox derby for noon. Children wishing to take part in the soapbox derby must pre-register for the event at provfair.corsizio.com. Fair organizers also ask that soapbox derby drivers please come with their own helmet and, of course, a mask.

Also at noon, the Public Health Sudbury and Districts mobile vaccine bus will be on-site for anyone who needs a COVID-19 vaccine, first or second dose! Don’t forget your health card!

At noon on Saturday, the classic tractor and car show gets underway at the fairgrounds. Admire some beauties from days gone by.

Tokyo’s got nothing on these athletes! The Farm Olympics get stared at noon on Saturday, also at the fairgrounds. Some events include tug-of-war, the classic hay bale throw, wheelbarrow race, egg and spoon race and three-legged race. This is also a crucial event for those families signed up for the Family Fun Trophy to gain some points.

The fairgrounds will also be home to live music on Saturday afternoon, from 1 to 4 pm, beginning with Hunt the Hare, a Celtic four-man band from southern Ontario. Providence Bay Agricultural Society secretary/treasurer Dawn Dawson calls Hunt the Hare “a fun act with lots of audience interaction.” An act not to be missed. Next on stage is River Valley, no strangers to the fair. The multi-genre band will play whatever the audience wants of them from classic country to classic rock. All are inducted members of the Northern Opry.

After a busy afternoon, have a hearty supper before heading back to the fairgrounds for the fair’s famed Manitoulin’s Got Talent, getting underway at 8 pm. Video submissions from talented Islanders will be shown on the big, outside screen (and also shared on the fair’s Facebook and YouTube pages) and emceed live by Karlene Scott. Following Manitoulin’s Got Talent, get snuggled in for movie night sponsored by Spring Bay Pentecostal Church. A yet-to-be-determined children’s movie will be aired first, followed by the 1996 action movie ‘Twister.’ Please bring your lawn chair and bug spray.

Sunday’s signature event, the Owen MacKelvie Memorial Amazing Race, begins at 10 am with a staggered start. What is fast becoming a signature Providence Bay Fair event is now named in honour of one of the fair’s past Junior Fair Ambassadors who passed away last year. “(Owen) thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Amazing Race with his family,” Ms. Dawson shared. “And somewhere along the race is one of his favourite games from last year.”

There are 10 challenges scattered throughout Central Manitoulin in the Owen MacKelvie Memorial Amazing Race that groups must complete. The route, and almost all of the games, are different from last year, so those past participants who think they might have a leg up, think again! All of the games are based on the theme of ‘bushels, bales and tales.’

“Bring a whole tank of gas, a pair of work gloves and a positive attitude,” Ms. Dawson encouraged. Families or groups have until Friday to register at provfair.corsizio.com or by calling Ms. Dawson at 705-377-5003 or 705-348-1251. Groups can be as big as can be safely housed in your vehicle.

Following the Owen MacKelvie Memorial Amazing Race, the Family Fun Trophy will be awarded. 

All weekend long, families are encouraged to take in the virtual crop, hay bale structure and front yard display tour. Check out the tour map by visiting providencebayfair.ca/virtual-manitoulin-crop-tour/. 

Tickets are also available all weekend long to win a beautiful handstitched quilt.

All the events are free this year, and Ms. Dawson gave special recognition to the Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs for the generous grant that allowed the fair board to put this storied event on.

See you at the fair!