One of the larger fall fairs in Ontario - The Markham Fall Fair One of the larger fall fairs in Ontario - The Markham Fall Fair. Photo courtesy Ross Millar Group

Cluck cluck! Moo moo! Baa baa! Fall fairs sights and smells take us back to what counts.

They say that you can always trust a child to tell it the way it is. And there’s no child in the world who doesn’t thrill to livestock, the other farm animals and produce (ever see a kid ignore a giant pumpkin?), the festivity, the exhibits, the games and competitions of a good fall fair.

Here in Ontario we’re fortunate to have a number of fall fairs. There are many within a short drive that can take you back to the way things really still are, for the people who put the food on our table.

Just the drive through the countryside is therapeutic. In fact there’s research that shows that being in contact with nature reduces our stress level. That alone is worth the trip, wouldn’t you say?

So take in a fall fair this autumn. Enjoy a memorable day’s outing.

One of the biggest fall fairs is on in Markham October 1st through 4th

The Markham and East York Agricultural Society host the Markham Fair. It has been the showcase for local agriculture, talent and products since 1844. Judges will award prizewinners among some 3,000 exhibitors and over 10,000 items.

Upwards of 60,000 visitors will enjoy entertainment ranging from traditional horse and tractor pulls to a smash ’em, bang ’em demolition derby, livestock shows, displays of farm animals and exciting midway rides.

Parking is free. Seniors get a discount. And the Markham Fair is easy to drive to at the northeast corner of Elgin Mills Road and Markham Road.


Milton fall Fair

With a short drive to Milton, you can enjoy the Milton Fall Fair September 25-27th

This is a wonderful fall fair if you’re a classic car fan. The car posters we seniors had on our wall as kids are there in “the metal”, gleaming and competing for your attention.

But make no mistake. With its roots in 1853, the Milton Fall Fair is still very much an agricultural fair. The displays feature local fruits and vegetables in abundance, needlecraft, baking and preserves. It’s the place to go if you’re an antiques enthusiast, photographer or gardener. And it still offers the thrill to grandkids of real farm animals, close up, face to face.

There’s a variety of horse shows, pet shows and the usual country fair entertainment.

The Milton Fall Fair grounds are just west of the James Snow Exit from Highway 401. The website has a location map. Unfortunately there’s no discount for seniors, but an adult ticket is pretty reasonable at $10. Parking costs $5.00 daily.

Country-style fun amidst one of Toronto’s suburbs – the Woodbridge Fair, October 10, 11 and 12th

This intimate fall fair takes place just 1 km north of Highway 7 on Kipling Avenue.

Yet you can see cow milking, a highly skilled horseback drill team, an extreme motorcycle show and all sorts of traditional rural exhibits.

Eight bucks gets you in and parking is free.

In the ’60s, my wife and I used to take our family swimming at Boyd Conservation Area in Woodbridge. It’s a different town now, but it’s wonderful to see its agricultural heritage continuing in the Woodbridge Fair.

With an hour’s drive to Rockton, you can enjoy the Rockton World’s Fair on Thanksgiving Weekend

Rockton is really part of Hamilton, so while the journey to its agricultural past may seem a long one, the trip to the Rockton World’s Fair is actually a short one.

Be there by 2 p.m. and you’ll see the magnificent Black Angus cattle on show. Stick around till 5:30 and you’ll see the Ontario Miniature Horse Show.

Admission is $13.00 for adults.

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

And if you miss the fall fairs in the country, don’t forget the fall fair in the city – the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, November 6-15th.
Ben Radvanyi

If I’m not mistaken, the Royal is the largest agricultural fair in the world. Whatever you love – horses, cows, chickens, dogs, the Royal probably has more of them than enough. Its Horse Show alone was the No. 1 rated horse show in continental North America!

There are show jumper competitions, a high-stepping hackney contest, even a heavy horse hitch competition.

See the cows, lovingly washed and brushed to look their best. There’ll be about 600 cows at the Royal. Not to mention 300 sheep. Over 250 chickens – displaying an incredible variety of plumage – that are inclined to all sound off at the same time. And a strong, silent pumpkin that could weigh over 1000 pounds.

Don’t miss the famous annual butter sculptures, more giant vegetables, cheeses galore and maple syrup. If the ample samples aren’t enough to satisfy your appetite, there are cafes and bars and a pub, as well as a food court.

Did I mention Superdogs? They’re fast, fun and pull off tricks that will amaze you – even if you think you’ve seen it all.

There’s so much to see and enjoy at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. It’s still on the CNE grounds. And seniors 65+ can buy a ticket in advance for $17.00 ($19.00 at the door). The grounds have 4,000 parking spaces (paid parking). Or, if you’re up to it, leave the car at home and hit the TTC or GO; they bring you right to the door.

My wife and I try to catch at least one fall fair each autumn, just to keep in touch with a reality that doesn’t have a keyboard attached.

If you haven’t been to a fall fair in years, now’s the time to check one out. Enjoy the sights, sounds and smell of farm animals. Share the old-fashioned pride in animals and land well-tended, crafts well-made and skills well demonstrated.

Autumn is great time to put a little fall fair “whoop-de-do” in your life!

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