161 YEARS STRONG
This year marks the 161st Annual Bobcaygeon Fall Fair. The origin of the Fall Fair is one that goes as far back as 1792 when John Simcoe (first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada) helped to organize the Agricultural Society of Upper Canada in an effort to establish Upper Canada as an agricultural nation. In the 1800's, hundreds of agricultural societies soon emerged across Canada. And in 1858 the Verulam Agricultural Society was born. Throughout the years many changes have taking place including location of the fairgrounds, erections of buildings including the Bobcaygeon-Verulam Community Centre (1954) and the Curling Club (1967), loss of buildings due to fires, acquisition of adjacent land to name a few.
As early at 1895, a parade was held, organized by Mossum Boyd and his foreman. At that time the locks were east of the present day swing bridge. The parade came up by the canal and turned on to the bridge at the bank corner. The parade proceeded to the fountain on the north side of town where the Fair was held around the Market Square. Today's parade starts from the Market Square and ends at the current fairgrounds. A original portion of the current grounds were purchased from Mossum Boyd in 1901 for $350.00. Fair-goers travelled by train, autos and boats to attend the fair. The first prize offered for a decorated auto was in 1915 when Mr. & Mrs. Harry Garlick motored from Toronto to the fair.
All through the years, many good cattle, horses, hogs and sheep were shown. Eventually poultry and pets were added to the showcase. Harness racing as well. A time for all the farmers and their families, from inside and outside the municipality to show off their hard work throughout the year. Baking and sewing were also displayed for all to view and admire.
One problem discussed annually when the land was acquired for the fairgrounds was what would the land be used for during the year. It was decided to rent the land for pasture to a local man with horses and cattle. Again more improvements were made to the land and eventually campers were coming to seek a location to pitch a tent and park their trailers for the night throughout the summer months. It is now the current home for the Bobcaygeon Trailer Park – which houses over 85 campsites as well and addition green space for overnight camping.
In 1974, the name changed from the Verulam Agricultural Society / Verulam-Bobcaygeon Agricultural Society to the Bobcaygeon Agricultural Society. We salute our Forefathers for their dedication, wisdom, foresight and labour in those early years and what they achieved, that we may now enjoy the fruit of their work and make our Fair what it has always been – The Daddy of em All.
If you would like to learn more about the evolution of the Bobcaygeon Fall Fair – we produced a small booklet for our 150th Anniversary that is available at the Secretary's office at the fair for a donation of $2.50.
Looking forward to seeing you at the 160th Bobcaygeon Fall Fair – The Daddy of Em All.