Burford Fall Fair | Older than Confederation!

The Burford Fall Fair…” Best small town fair in South Western Ontario.”

Some things are a reflection of the past. The iconic Merry-Go-Round has been a treasured feature for decades and to the glee of thousands of children aged from 4 to 104.

Despite the rain early in the day dampening the turnout this year, when the sun did come out, so did the people. 

In 1860, the Fair was a gathering for locals, mostly farmers, over Thanksgiving, celebrating the end of harvest. Some events have survived the generations of Fall Fairs. Horticulture, Home Craft, Baking and Quilting were critically judged and awarded ribbons. Dozens of school kids and family members were committed to volunteer in the planning and over the three days with the Burford Agricultural Society, their board of directors and this year’s President Flint Barker.

Fair food and open fire cooking were available at the turn of the century. Food is still a stable today, although I’m pretty sure candy floss and funnel cakes are a new twist since 1860.

In the past, folks would pull up in their horse and buggies to meet with neighbours and challenge each other to skill testing games at the midway.

The chariots of choice are now called SUVs and Mini Vans and the prizes are fuzzy animals not real ones. Pony rides, petting zoos and log cutting competitions have been consistent over the 158 years. 

Sparky and 2018 Miss Burford Fair Ambassador, Miss Rosalind Slaman are seen here greeting the crowd. The 2018 Junior Miss Ambassador is Emilee Dobson. This year, the community enthusiasm brings folks from far and away to partake in the fun and experience of a Fall Fair. Hundreds are drawn to the Burford Fall Fair, recognizing some incredible local talent, including: agriculture; musicians; the midway; local service clubs; and of course the Demolition Derby.

There’s no question the demolition derby didn’t arrive until the 1900s although there was likely some kind of chuck wagon race that preceded it historically.

 The piece de resistance for Fair goers and neighbours, though, is the demolition derby.

Rivalries between drivers and car owners from Burford, Brantford, Ayr, Paris (and beyond) draw all sorts of jazzy cars stripped of glass and painted, for effect and sponsors, race in the figure eight and multi-car demolitions. The grandstands on all sides are packed with fans cheering on their favourite drivers.

The Brant County Fire Department stands on alert at each corner and safety rules are strictly adhered to as laid out by the organizers, Edge Motorsports.

It’s loud. It’s messy in a mud filled compound, and the driver’s pound, splash, smash, blast out flames and destroy their competitor’s vehicles leaving the carnage and smoke to defeat the losers but entertain the fans.

Some celebrate with flare…

Others are escorted out a little less ceremonially… 

They stand on the hoods of their vanquished steeds and reflect on the battle… …some, like Ryan Corner below, vow to be back another day.

Burford hosts an incredible annual Thanksgiving Fall Fair weekend family event to the exhilaration of all attendees young and old.

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