Thorndale Fall Fair - celebrating 165 years

  • Community   Wednesday, September 28, 2022   Nancy Abra

By Nancy Abra
The West Nissouri Agricultural Society began in 1857. Since 1909, it has been known as the Thorndale Agricultural Society in charge of the Thorndale Fall Fair. 2022 marks this fair’s 165th year ~ a huge accomplishment that many rural agricultural societies never achieve.
The fair brings people of all ages together and has an economic boost to the community. The rural fall fair is a celebration of local agriculture. It brings people of all ages together whether it is a homecoming, to learn about agriculture and rural life or just to enjoy the fair’s events, sights, and food.
Over the course of history, the Thorndale Fair has endured tough times and has gone through many changes and advancements. In the early beginnings of the fair, local resident, William Logan’s stable housed the exhibits for a few years until the ‘Crystal Palace’ was bought and moved to a permanent fairground in 1893. Since then, the fair exhibits have been showcased in various buildings on the grounds, with this year in the newly built Thorndale Lions Community Centre.
In the agriculture society’s 1878 meeting, the ‘ladies department’ was first mentioned. It has been changed to the ‘homecraft division’. Over the years, quilts, sewing, needle work, baking, preserves, art, crafts, photography, and horticulture has been a significant part of the Thorndale Fair. This year there were over 1100 entries in these various classes with Nancy Harmer of the Thorndale area the grand winner of the Homecraft Division with her 67 prize winning entries.
The School Fair Division wasn’t part of the Thorndale Fair until the 1920’s as the schools held their own 'in house’ competition. But over the years, and with a growing community, this division has been popular with young crafters and growers. This year there were almost 850 entries in the various classes in this division.
Livestock and field crop entries and displays were the focus in the early years of the Thorndale Fair. But there is still a strong competition in these areas of agriculture with the 4H club and horse show.
In the early years, the Agriculture Society’s membership fees financed the fairs. Today, sponsorships and admission fees help pay the costs. In recent years, the Thorndale Fair has held a ‘pie auction’ at the opening ceremonies on the Friday night. The Homecraft Division ‘red ribbon pies’ are auctioned off to the highest bidder. The antics of who can outbid for those ‘first place’ pies are part of the fun but is serious as people bid up to $1000 for their favourite kind of pie. This year, $10,950 was raised with just 12 pies being auctioned off. Also, on Friday evening, a beautiful earth-tone quilt made and donated by Vera VanDenNieuwelaar was auctioned and raised $3,000 for the Thorndale Fall Fair.
Besides the agriculture and homecraft competition, an Ambassador for the Thorndale Fair is selected on the Friday evening. Dillion Parks, 18 and Haylie Graham, 22 of the Thorndale area competed in this competition. Haylie Graham was selected by a panel of judges as the 2022 Ambassador and will represent the Thorndale Agricultural Society at various local events, leadership training opportunities and at the 2023 CNE competition.
For 165 years the Thorndale Fair has been a continuous, ‘homegrown and handmade’ community event, celebrating the strong ties to agriculture and the vitality of the Thorndale community.