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.,Geneva,Sans-Serif

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.