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Agricultural Society adapts fall fair with drive-through festival

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Was it a fair, an agricultural roadshow, a fairground safari? However you describe it, the Prince Edward Agricultural Society Fall Drive-Thru Festival was a fair like no other, providing a memorable and unique experience for those who took the time to attend, Saturday.

Picton’s traditional fair was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Agricultural Society hosted a splendid attempt at providing something for the community to see, all while keeping safe. The Picton Fairgrounds was transformed into a car-friendly, coronavirus-safe event for all to enjoy, on a perfect autumn weather day of sunshine and warm temperatures.

For the first time in its long history, the Prince Edward Agricultural Society held a drive-through, scaled-back version of the 184th annual fair. Organizers pivoted, reimagined, and adjusted plans to come up with the option allowing fair goers to experience the celebration of agriculture from a different vantage point.

Entering through the back gate on Macsteven Drive, the constant line of vehicles wended its way around the track and through the fairgrounds. It was slow going, but no one seemed to mind, and it gave everyone the opportunity to see farm equipment, machinery, animals and agriculture up-close.

Cheery volunteers en-route guided the parade of vehicles and provided information.

Inching closer to Crystal Palace, attendees had the option of diverting to the drive-through food concessions offering a selection of fair favourites, such mini doughnuts, milkshakes, popcorn and cotton candy, or bypassing the food and continuing onward.

There were old and new tractors, big and little tractors, shiny tractors and rusted tractors and a host of mostly big farm machinery, and several classic cars.

Everyone was required to stay inside their vehicles for the duration, where masks were optional, but very little interaction with distanced (and masked) volunteers meant everyone was kept safe. The concession stands were no exception, with orders made from vehicles and food delivered to vehicles.

This free event even included a fire thrower to put a smile on children’s faces and the Prince Edward County firefighters, were also in attendance.

Continuing on the one-way route took folks through the agricultural barn with livestock, with cows and horses, goats and chickens.

Fall displays of flowers and vegetables filled the barn, including a display from the 4-H Club. There were quilts, barn quilts and wood carvings. Pumpkins came in many sizes, apples in many varieties, as well the fall’s always popular giant produce – including gourds, beets and cabbages.

Due to the number of vehicles keen to experience the unique festival, it took about 40 minutes to complete the circuit, but of course, no one was in a hurry. It was meant as a leisurely roll, allowing the opportunity to enjoy the displays, autumn colours and the flavour of fall. And if people wanted to do it all over again, there was no limit to the number of times the loop could be enjoyed.

At the end of the road, a donation bucket was provided for visitors to show appreciation for the effort, with monies going to local charities.

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  1. angela says:

    Congrats to the fair board for a great effort. It was a day brightener in these stressful times and a creative way of making the fair happen in a different way.

  2. Rita Stevens says:

    Sharon is right when she says ‘the line was constant, but nobody seemed to mind’. It was an outing, however different. Those of us who love the fair, were very happy that ‘something’ was happening at the fair ground. Thank you to the many volunteers that made this a success.

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