Crowds streamed into the Ormstown fairgrounds this past weekend, marking a successful 106th edition of the agricultural exhibition and a triumphant return for the Expo following the pandemic. Official attendance numbers were not available by press time, but there was no hesitation on the part of organizers to confirm this year’s fair absolutely shattered previous records.
Rain showers earlier in the day on Thursday did nothing to stop enthusiastic fairgoers from lining the streets of Ormstown in anticipation of the traditional parade and opening ceremony. Clouds on Friday parted early, allowing visitors to enjoy a full day of activities including 4-H shows and competitions, horse and cattle shows, ASTTQ tractor pulls, thrilling midway rides, live music, and educational demonstrations.
With close to 4,500 advance tickets sold online, and weather reports suggesting perfect conditions on Saturday, the Livestock Breeders Association of the District of Beauharnois (LBA) was prepared for a busy day; but the crowds exceeded expectations and quickly overwhelmed the parking area. By mid-morning, officials were begging visitors to park at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School or within the village to benefit from a free shuttle service to the grounds.
“Saturday was record-breaking,” says LBA secretary Jayme McClintock. “In talking with vendors, everyone was sold out and had to restock for Sunday,” she says. The 1st Huntingdon Scouts, who were selling grillades to raise funds for members to attend a Jamborette in Scotland this July, grilled well over 1,150 pounds of the summertime staple. The 4-H dairy booth was reduced to serving only vanilla cones by Saturday night, and with fresh supplies brought in for Sunday, sold over 672 litres of ice cream over the four days. “It was a very successful 4-H fundraiser,” said Sarah Brisebois, who admits it was a bit intense at times.
“We figure we served well over 3,000 hot dogs,” says Taylor Lamb of the Ormstown Curling Club which ran a canteen in the Industrial Building. Lamb suggests the fundraiser was so successful it will likely float the club for the coming year. “It is pretty big for not having had any revenue for two years,” he says.
Throughout the day and into the night, long lines crossed the grounds as visitors waited patiently to enjoy their favourite midway rides, snacks, and drinks. Crowds formed around the various exhibitions and demonstrations. Officials noted they had never seen so many people in the arena to watch the cattle show.
“There were so many different factors. I think the pandemic helped,” McClintock says, admitting the timing was just right given the relatively recent lifting of public health measures and restrictions. “Even just a month ago, it would have been different,” she suggests.
Certainly, the size of the crowds bodes well for summer events in the area, and the LBA is ready to bring on the Fall Festival, though McClintock admits they may need a bit of a nap first.