165th Sydenham fair takes over East Ridge

Thursday, September 20, 2018

For eight years now Ellie Hill has proudly shown animals at the Sydenham Fall Fair.
But on Thursday at the 165th edition of the fair the Grade 8 East Ridge Community School student was making her last trips around the show ring.
“I am kind of upset because I like doing it,” Hill said after showing her Holstein calf 7-11, which earned her first place in both the showmanship and confirmation categories of the dairy calf show.
Hill started out showing her sheep in Grade 1, then she started showing her goat in Grade 4 and her calf in Grade 6.
She said the fair has been fun over the years because she has been able to show her friends from the city what it is like to be around farm animals.
“I grew up on a dairy farm so it has kind of been part of my life,” said Hill, 13. “My dad asked if I would like to do 4-H with my calf and I decided to try it. Ever since that I liked it.”
Hill took part in two other fairs this year already – the Owen Sound Fall Fair and the Rocklyn Fall Fair. She said the Sydenham fair, which is one of the last school-based fairs in Canada, is different because it is a calf show, but the calves are all grouped in together, unlike the bigger shows where the calves are broken into different groups. There is also a little less pressure at the Sydenham fair.
“It seems like there are lots of people here, but there really is not,” said Hill, who added it is more about having fun than winning at the fair.
Hill wasn’t sure if she would be back at the fair in the future to watch, but she said her brother Owen, who is in Grade 6, has already said he plans to show next year.
“He wants to show against his cousins and beat them,” Hill said.
Grade 5 student Leeann Roney was showing her jersey calf Lila at this year’s fair. It is the second year the 10-year-old has done so.
“I don’t usually show and I kind of like it,” said Roney. “I like working with the calf.”
Roney said she enjoyed showing her calf in front of all her friends.
“I like it when they can see what I have been working on,” she said.
This year’s fair had a wide array of animals on display for students at the school to view. Along with the dairy and beef calves, there were also miniature horses, sheep, goats, ponies and pigs. There were also smaller animals such as chickens, geese and rabbits. Inside the school an animal rescue organization even had a porcupine and opossum.
Brothers Cole and Bryce Oliphant brought their pet rabbit Roo to the fair so they could show him to their friends and schoolmates.
“We have been playing with him and showing people him,” said Bryce, 10. “We want them to know we have a rabbit that we are living with.”
Bryce said those who have come to see Roo have said that he is fluffy and cute. They said they enjoy having a rabbit, which is fairly easy to take care of.
“You have to change the litter box and all of that, but it is not super hard,” said Cole, 11.
“Any we have to clean his cage,” Bryce added.
Along with the animal shows and displays, this year’s fair featured a number of events, activities and displays for the school’s more than 800 students.
Other attractions included a horse obstacle course, home craft and crop displays and garden club entries. There was an Amazing Race competition for the students in Grades 6 to 8.
On Wednesday they held beaver buggy and cub car races at the school as part of the fair events.
Sydenham Agricultural Society president Heather Robertson said she couldn’t be happier with how it had gone.
“I think each year we keep saying it is the best yet, and I think this one is the best yet,” said Robertson. “We have lots of entries, we have great weather and it just seemed to come together.”
Robertson gave credit to all the volunteers involved in making sure the event was such a success.
“We had so much help to pull it off,” she said.
The fair was moved to East Ridge last year after Sydenham Community School closed in June 2017. In the past the fair had been held at that school as well as at Grey Roots Museum and Archives. With the move to East Ridge it has meant that the fair has been able to educate many more people about rural living.
“It is educating every single student, parent and teacher about agriculture and farm animals,” said Robertson. “That is probably the biggest thing about this fair. We bring it right into the middle of town and just deal with the poop.”

Grade 3 student Megan Bumstead, 8, uses her pig Cinnamon as a pillow at the 165th Sydenham Fall Fair at East Ridge Community School on Thursday, September 20, 2018 in Owen Sound, Ont. The fair is one of the last school-based fairs in Canada. Rob Gowan/The Owen Sound Sun Times/Postmedia Network

Grade 3 student Megan Bumstead, 8, uses her pig Cinnamon as a pillow at the 165th Sydenham Fall Fair at East Ridge Community School on Thursday, September 20, 2018 in Owen Sound, Ont. The fair is one of the last school-based fairs in Canada. Rob Gowan/The Owen Sound Sun Times/Postmedia Network

Sydenham Fair Moves to East Ridge

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

As the Sydenham Fall Fair marks its 164th year, it will be teaching a whole new body of students about life on the farm.
This year's fair –- possibly the last remaining school-run agricultural fair in Canada -- for the first time will be celebrated by the newly created East Ridge Community School and its 800 students.
“We are excited to have so many kids involved in it. It is just going to get bigger and bigger,” said Heather Robertson, president of the Sydenham Agricultural Society, which puts on the fair. “It is nice because they also get to learn about agriculture and where their food comes from.”
In the past, the Sydenham Fall Fair had been held for students of Sydenham Community School. But that school closed in June along with Bayview Elementary School after an accommodation review by the Bluewater District School Board, with students now attending the new East Ridge school in the former OSCVI building. But even though the Sydenham school is no more, organizers wanted to keep their fair going.
“It still has that Sydenham Fall Fair name, but it is not about Sydenham, it is about all these kids coming together,” said Robertson. “They own the fair and it is their time to shine.”
Robertson said preparation for the fair has gone well. In recent years the event has been held at Grey Roots Museum and Archives south of the city, but they decided this year to hold it at East Ridge because of the logistics of having so many students at Grey Roots this year.
“We certainly would love to go back to Grey Roots because they have a barn and all that stuff,” said Robertson. “It just houses livestock so much better than at East Ridge.” 
East Ridge principal Burke Mason said he is new to the school, like many of the staff and students, and it is exciting to be part of something that is offering plenty of good, educational opportunities.
“The kids are excited about it,” said Mason. “The agriculture is more hands-on, which is good for the kids, especially in our area.”
Mason said he will wait to see how the event goes this year, but thinks there may be an opportunity to include more students from other schools.
“It would be good for (Alexandra Community School) kids and others from all over to be there,” said Mason. “We will see how it works actually hosting it on a school grounds.”
The real preparation for this year's fair will start today when students bring in their various exhibits, including artwork, crafts, fruits and vegetables and baking to be judged. There will also be early registration for the pet and livestock shows.
On Wednesday judging will take place all day, along with beaver buggy and cub car races in the morning.
Fair day is Thursday with the opening ceremonies beginning at 10 a.m. The pet show begins at 10:30 a.m. With various categories for dogs and cats, along with rabbits, hamsters and gerbils and others. There is also a pet-and-child look-a-like category.
New this year at the fair there is a Fall Fair Amazing Race event for students in Grades 6-8 beginning at 11 a.m.
“The Grade 8s came up with challenges and the Grade 6s and 7s will go through all those challenges,” said Robertson. “It is basically a race like you would see on TV and they go through the challenges in their teams.”
The all-animal livestock shows begin at 1 p.m. including for swine, lambs, goats, dairy calves and beef calves. There is also a miniature pony category with children leading their pony through an obstacle course on fair day.
Also at the fair this year will be Aquamania from the University of Guelph and the Cedar Crest Trout Farm from the Walters Falls area.
Robertson said she believes there will be more livestock at this year's fair because of the larger student body.
“It gives the kids a chance to see a pig if they have never seen a pig before, or some sheep,” said Robertson. “The kids who are showing those animals stay right with them and teach their friends about what they eat and that kind of stuff.”
They have also introduced a crop section to the fair this year as another tool to educate the students.
“Kids from the city may not know the difference between silage corn and grain corn, when you combine and when you chop it up for the cows,” said Robertson. “We are going to have a whole display of what the farm kids brought in from their parents' fields.”


September 22nd, 2016

Students Unite to Honour Tradition

Students from Sydenham Community and Bayview Public Schools in Owen Sound are already becoming acquainted in anticipation of the merging of the two school communities in September 2017. As part of the 163rd Annual Sydenham Fall Fair on Thursday, September 22nd, organizers, staff and students from Sydenham invited their future school peers from Bayview to come to Grey Roots Museum & Archives for a taste of what this historic tradition is all about.

Arguably the oldest and last Canadian school-based fall event of its kind still in operation, the Sydenham Fall Fair is alive and well with no plans of ending any time soon.

“We have a fantastic group of volunteers, sponsors, staff and students who work extremely hard each year to ensure that this tradition continues to inspire a new generation of young learners.  With the joining of the two school communities next September, we are all very excited and committed to maintaining and building upon the success of the Sydenham Fall Fair,” says Sydenham Community School Principal Karen Spragg.

“Inviting Bayview students to attend this year’s Sydenham Fall Fair not only provided an excellent educational opportunity to learn about a unique local tradition, but also illustrated a thoughtful gesture in school community building for the future by our friends at Sydenham,” says Bayview Public School Principal Lauren Lipsett.

As in the past, this year’s event connected students with their rural roots through hands-on activities and displays that showcased and celebrated the importance of local agriculture and how our food progresses from farm to table.  Students contributed a wide assortment of creations for exhibition and judging at the Moreston Heritage Village barn, such as home grown vegetable and garden displays, baking, construction and crafts, creative writing and even livestock.  The latter included miniature ponies, calves, lamb, goats and pigs.  A separate pet show featuring dogs, cats, rabbits and hamsters, was also held.  A new addition to this year’s itinerary was the Fall Fair Amazing Race for students in Grades 6 to 8.

At the end of the day, many Bayview students were left with a positive first impression and sense of excitement to get involved next year.  Their attendance was made possible thanks to the support of the Bayview School Community Council who covered bus transportation costs.     

In addition to Thursday’s event, the viewing of exhibits at Grey Roots and other fall fair classroom activities at Sydenham spanned most of the week.



September 23rd, 2015

Sydenham Fall Fair Comes Home

September 29th, 2011


(L-R) Alex MacPherson, 9, Tyson Cunningham, 8, Logan Porter, 10, Jonathan Ellis, 10, Landon Sanford, 8, and Emerson Lines 10 enjoy some of the pumpkin carvings entered into the 158th Annual Sydenham Fall Fair Thursday September 29, 2011. The pumpkins were just one of the many vegetables, crafts, and projects entered into the fair which was held for the fourth year at Grey Roots in Rockford. Over 500 kids from Sydenham School in grades junior kindergarden to grade 8 participated in the day long fair that also included baking, photography, art and livestock competitions.--JAMES MASTERS/QMI Agency/The Sun Times



September 24th, 2011

Sydenham Fair Nears

The Sydenham Fall Fair, which organizers say may be the oldest such school-based event in Canada, runs next week at Grey Roots Museum and Archives.

Highlights include a pet show Thursday, Sept. 29 at 10:30 a.m. and a livestock show at 1 p.m., Grey Roots said in a news release Friday.

About 500 junior kindergarten to Grade 8 students from Sydenham Community School are expected to take part in the 158th annual agricultural event, organized by the Sydenham Agricultural Society.

Projects will be judged and displayed throughout the Grey Roots facility, and at various locations in the Heritage Village including a large number of displays in the 1920s barn. They include writing, photography and crafts, along with baked goods, fruits and vegetables and livestock.

Grey Roots is the site for the one-day student fall fair for the fourth time this year, with the student work to remain on display Friday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 1. Thursday fair day is free for all students, teachers and parents from Sydenham school, while regular museum admission fees apply to the public.