The thrill of the Picton Fair returns

(Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)


The sights, sounds and the smells of Prince Edward County’s favourite late summer gathering returned to the fairgrounds as the Agricultural Society celebrated the harvest with the 186th running of the Picton Fair.

(Karen Valihora/Gazette Staff)

Blessed with temperate conditions – a late Saturday night rain shower notwithstanding – this year’s fair drew approximately 12,000 attendees. That figure was being greeted with enthusiasm by Ag. Society members.

“The paid gate receipts are slightly down over last year but we had to deal with construction on Main Street so we felt this was a pretty good fair for attendance,” Secretary/Treasurer Tina Hiddink told the Gazette Monday.

Overall, the Ag. Society wound up judging over 1,200 entries from livestock to static displays to art work to fruits and vegetables. The Huff Estates Arena floor was full of the all the displays of the season. Out on the midway, World’s Finest Shows were handing out a thrill a minute with their array of rides and games.

Ms. Hiddink noted there were generally positive reviews amongst fair goers in 2023 when it came to the rides.

“In the past there’s been complaints there haven’t been enough rides for certain age groups but everything we heard was positive, there was a good selection and some remarked this was the best midway they’ve ever seen.”

After surveying the field of entrants at the annual Baby Show, the late Don King, former mayor of Picton and event emcee emeritus would surely have made his favourite crack that it looked to have been a particularly cold and snowy winter in Prince Edward County. Upwards of 70 entrants made their way to the Crystal Palace Friday afternoon and while the judges had the unenviable task of separating the best of the bunch, they settled on (right, with mom Ashley) Riley Harvey as the Best in Show for 2023. The first runner up was Tess Terpstra while Jack Bailey was second runner up.

All three took home trophies and every participant earned a well deserved afternoon nap on the car ride home. The squeaks and squawks coming from Ed’s Place was a sure sign that raisers of backyard livestock in Prince Edward County brought all manner of fowl to the Picton Fair.

In terms of art, Ms. Hiddink said entrants were down over years past but attributed the dwindling number to a lessening on COVID restrictions and more in-person activities for folks to occupy themselves with.

The Fair ended with a bang…and a crash and the roar of an overheated engine or two as the Impact Motorsports demolition derby thrilled a capacity crowd looking on from the grandstand. With a $4,000 purse thanks to a number of generous sponsors, there was no shortage of drivers willing to sacrifice a carefully decorated motor chariot -sans muffler – for octane fuelled glory.

In the end, Brad Mills was the feature winner with Dawson Beaudrie being the final driver to bow out of Sunday’s proceedings.