The 179th Vankleek Hill Fair really was The Place to Bee.
Thousands of people attended and participated in the fair, which ran from Thursday, August 17 to Sunday, August 20 at Vankleek Hill’s picturesque fairgrounds.
On Thursday evening, the parade, with floats and participants decorated for “The Place to Bee” theme of bees and honey, made its way through the streets of Vankleek Hill to the grandstand at the fairgrounds. The sky looked ominous before the opening ceremony but the dark clouds fortunately blew over. During the opening ceremony, Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (OAAS) President Glen Syme said volunteers are what make fairs possible. He specifically mentioned the contributions made by OAAS District 1 Director Valerie Allen, and past District 1 Director Jeff LeRoy, both of Vankleek Hill.
Glengarry-Prescott-Russell Member of Parliament Francis Drouin spoke briefly and commented how his four-year-old son particularly enjoys the midway at the fair. Glengarry-Prescott-Russell Member of Provincial Parliament Stéphane Sarrazin emphasized the Ontario government’s support for the agricultural societies which present fairs across the province, and the grants provided to them through the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Champlain Township Mayor Normand Riopel said the fair is a highlight for him.
“It’s so good to be here tonight and take part in one of my favourite events in our township,” Riopel said.
Vankleek Hill Agricultural Society President Al Nixon thanked the fair board’s directors and committee directors for their dedication in organizing the fair. He said he was pleased the earlier issues the board faced with obtaining a special event permit were resolved.
“It’s all volunteer work that we do, and without them it would be hard to have a fair,” Nixon said.
Following the opening ceremonies, the crowd was entertained by the Combine Demolition Derby. Shows for dairy and beef cattle were held throughout the four days of the fair along with English and Western equestrian competitions. The finest in local arts, crafts, and cooking was on display in the homecraft exhibit. For those less knowledgeable of agriculture, the education exhibit offered visitors the opportunity to learn about how their food is produced.
Unfortunately, the weather was not always perfect during the fair. Frequent rain showers hit on Friday and Saturday, making areas of the fairgrounds rather muddy. On Friday evening, the rain was over just in time for the Horse Pull and a rainbow appeared as a backdrop for the event. Rain later on Friday night unfortunately turned the infield area into soupy mud and the heavy horse hitch events on Saturday had to be cancelled.
The Saturday night Demolition Derby is always a huge event at the Vankleek Hill Fair. The crowd was huge, with thousands of people in attendance. It was difficult for spectators to get close enough to watch and parking was scarce.
On Sunday, the Vankleek Hill Fair concluded with the tractor pull and beef show.