OPINION: Hot dogs, fried onions and mud. Must be Brigden Fair time

Nadine Wark

The cool, crisp mornings and leaves changing colour means Fall Fair season is in full swing across Sarnia-Lambton.

The Brigden Fair is one of the oldest in the region, marking 167 years of operation this year. Occurring on the long Thanksgiving weekend, it’s also the last of our five county fairs.

It began as a one-day affair in 1850 at Riley’s Tavern and today runs over three days. It has always been a place for young and old to meet and see friends from the past.

I remember my grandparents taking my sister and I to the fair when I was about 12 years old, making the trip from Alvinston in their ’55 Ford. What a treat that was!

Our first stop was the midway, and back then the Ferris wheel was considered a daring ride. We would ride to the top, look around and could see forever.

We tried the games of chance, with a prize guaranteed every time. I wondered how I could win a giant stuffed animal, and the prizes from the fishpond were always some plastic gizmo we’d lose interest in by the time we returned home.

Mum insisted we wear boots, and sure enough, she’d be right. The Brigden Fair is notorious for raining at least one day each year, and many times we trudged through the mud.

Another vivid memory is the aroma of hotdogs and fried onions permeating the air, along with candy apples and candy fluff. The bees seemed happy too as they followed us around.

Grandpa had an interest in livestock, so we went along, viewing all kinds of farm animals and they, too, had a ‘unique’ aroma. As ‘city slickers’ from Corunna we got an education from the country folk.

The fair is a gathering place to celebrate the bounty of our great land, and every year we marvel at the gifted people who enter pies and preserves and homegrown fruits and vegetables in competition.

The work of local students is displayed in the craft buildings, and many go home with ribbons rewarding their effort and creativity. Many of our local fairs have baby contests, talent shows, parades, tractor pulls and other enjoyable events.

The Brigden Fair has evolved with the passing years. For example, Ambassadors have replaced the Queen of the Fair. But what remains constant is the sense of community and pride, passing traditions on down through the generations.

Oh, and the candy apples are as tasty, the bees are still around and there is always a chance of mud.

Nadine Wark is a retired office administrator and freelance writer who resides in Sarnia