OHSWEKEN – By all accounts the 150th Six Nations Fall Fair, although smaller, seemed more community centred and simple. More how some older members of the community may remember.
There were fewer rides and a smaller midway, but other activities added for the whole family filling the arena and community hall as well as outdoor venues.
Six months ago this year’s organizing committee was having to make the heart wrenching decision of whether there would be a 150th Six Nations Fall Fair or not. Years of accumulative deficits due to poor weather and maybe a few bad choices along the way drove attendance down in recent years.
One of the most expensive Fall Fair features is the main-stage show, generally conducted outdoors, which can become a complete bust if the weather does not co-operate. The big name artists required to bring big audiences, get paid the same big money if they play to 10,000 people or to 10. A rainout can be a disaster.
Most fairs have scaled back the grandstand shows accordingly, using more local acts. The concert market has been soft in general in recent years as well.
Six Nations Fair Committee chose to open the event with a free Thursday night concert, which was funded through an Ontario-150 grant, saving the committee thousands. The Thursday night kick-off featured Six Nations talent in the form of Jace Martin, Logan Staats, Lacy Hill and “Big Joe” Sharrow. That lineup was augmented by National names DJ Shub, Anjulie and Tom Wilson and Junkhouse.
By all accounts, Big Joe stole the show.
“I’ve been out of music for almost seven years,” said the big man after the performance. “It was so great to hear the people’s response when we took the stage.”
A good number of those who attended the show Thursday night came especially to witness Big Joe’s return. Although the headliners, Junkhouse, were amazing and deserved to headline the show, after Big Joe and his new band left the stage, most of the people left as well, as the weather began to turn cold, talking about Big Joe.
This year’s fair committee will be releasing its official report for council at the Annual General Meeting, but after going into this year’s fair $35,000 in the hole, the committee is anticipating a much better financial result than from recent years.
Although attendance was still relatively light, it was encouraging as far as how the event was received this year.
“It really was well received,” said Fair Committee Member Michael Bomberry after a couple of days of unwinding. “All of the events were well attended.”
If there was any disappointment this year it may have been the fewer number of rides for older teens and adults, but the fact there were any rides at all was due to last minute wrangling with amusement companies who are over extended during the fall fair season. Moving the event back to September made it very hard to find whatever rides they had. Next year will be better as they can book earlier.
Bomberry was also very happy with the participation of 28 venders in total including, nine food venders.
“We are already having people sign up to volunteer next year,” says Bomberry. “There is a volunteer form on our Six Nations Agricultural Society Facebook page.”
The whole committee was proud of how the community came together to help save and preserve a century and a half of the Six Nations Agricultural Fair.