Essex County agriculture societies to receive provincial funding boost
WINDSOR, ONT. -- This year would have been the Harrow Fair’s 166th run, but the event was cancelled due to COVID-19.
“This isn’t only being felt by our fair but also by our vendors and even the businesses locally,” said Harrow Fair treasurer Paul Charko.
The province announced Monday it will be investing $5 million to be split between 200 agricultural societies across Ontario — a much needed financial boost for the fair.
“We would use the money how we use all of the monies that we ever get,” Charko said. “We would use it wisely and appropriately to benefit our community because that’s what the harrow fair board is about.”
He says fairs, like Harrow, typically struggle to break even most years. Any profits he says generally go back to charities which have supported fairs in the past.
“Some of those organizations are those that offer security for us during the parade,” Charko said. “They offer gatekeepers; they collect fees on the way in.”
To be eligible to receive funding, agricultural and horticultural societies must demonstrate financial hardship.
“It’s much needed and greatly, greatly appreciated,” said Ian Pearce, president of the Comber Fair which also had to cancel this year’s event.
He says they hope to use the funding on permanent fixes.
“Our perimeter fence is in disrepair and just for safety reasons we should upgrade it and other than that there’s always minor things that pop up,” Pearce said.
He says they’re already working on the 2021 fair, which he believes attracts about 10,000 people to town.
“It gives people a chance to break from the norm and that and breaks up the summer, you celebrate as a family. It’s a good thing,” Pearce said.
And it’s a good thing for local business owners as well.
“The parade goes by right in front of our building so this becomes a hot spot for everybody to gather,” said the owner of Iron Kettle Ben LeBlanc-Beaudoin.
He says his bed and breakfast is usually fully booked before the August event.
“If you were take that away from our town, I think the spirit would die pretty quickly,” LeBlanc-Beaudoin said.