New adventures await attendees of the Beaverton and Sunderland fall fairs as organizers bid goodbye to the midways and hello to a variety of inflatables and other attractions.
Cathy Allison, president of the Sunderland Fall Fair which runs Sept. 12 and 13, says the decision was made after the community’s midway provider amalgamated with a larger amusement company. The new provider, she says, doesn’t do one or two-day fairs.
“We have replaced the former midway with Air Bounce Adventure Land — a village of inflatables,” says Allison.
“The Agricultural Society has planned a fun-filled couple of days for all ages to enjoy.”
Cyndi Schaffer, Ward 2 councillor and fair assistant for the Beaverton event, feels the elimination of the midway makes the event more affordable and inviting.
“We feel we have saved families lots of money, with no ride passes,” she says.
“Hopefully more families will be able to attend and not worry about paying for rides.”
Schaffer says the elimination of the midway wasn’t a choice made by organizers but is the result of a limited number of midway providers and a significant number of fairs.
“There are five reputable midway companies and 20 fairs on the same weekend as ours,” says Schaffer.
“We have never had a choice of what rides they bring either and there were less and less rides every year, but still $30 (or more) for an all day ride pass. Now we (organizers) are paying for everything! We have a cross section of events suitable for all ages, not just bouncers for little ones.”
Instead of the midway, the Beaverton Fall Fair, running Sept. 15-17, is hosting a new Fun Zone, including a variety of bouncy venues, a crossfit climbing tower and laser tag.
In April of 2016, a consulting group hired by the Peterborough Agricultural Society to complete a strategic plan for the Peterborough Exhibition listed eliminating the midway as a possible option for making the event more financially sustainable.
“While a midway has been a standard component of fairs for a long time, the midway experience at the Ex is not viewed as a positive for many patrons. Several comments were made during the interviews and in the survey that the midway is a disappointing experience and is quite likely turning some families away from attending the Ex,” reads the report from Synthesis Agri-Food Network, in part.
Synthesis noted a family fun zone, centered around inflatables, could be considered an alternative to the long-standing tradition of a midway.
In addition to the Fun Zone, the Beaverton fair also features car and antique tractor shows, a demolition derby, various animal shows, a garden tractor pull, a talent show and more.
A weekend pass to the Beaverton Fall Fair for one adult costs $28, or $25 if purchased in advance, and a weekend family pass, for two adults and two children, costs $80. Preschoolers get in for free all weekend long and parking, across the road from the fairgrounds, costs $2. Learn more at beavertonfallfair.ca.
In Sunderland, attendees are treated to opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. on the Tuesday followed by Legion Line Dancers and a talent show. The Lawn Tractor Pull takes place at the grandstand and the Vintage Tractor and Car Show is located on the grass. The Horse Pull is hosted on the center ball diamond. The demolition derby starts at 7:30 p.m. at the grandstand on Wednesday night.
Tuesday evening admission to the Sunderland Fall Fair costs $7 (school students get in for free) and Wednesday evening admission costs $10 (elementary students get in for free). A two-day pass costs $15 and parking costs $2.
The fair also features a pet show, horse shows, a parade of students from Sunderland Public School, a musical ride by the Canadian Cow Girls, and more. Full details are available at agfair.ca.