Looking Back


It's Fall Fair Time


Brochure cover:
Every exhibitor had to be a member of the
Society or the Women's Institute.

Onoway's first agricultural fair was held in the hamlet of Onoway (administered by the Municipal District of Woodford). The fall fairs, run by the Onoway Agricultural Society and held on the open field north of today's liquor store, continued until the late 1920s.


The first years, local ladies provided a free meal to all who came, then after the Onoway Women's Institute was organized in 1916, they served dinners and lunches at the fairs. The first year dinner consisting of roast beef, ham, potato salad, cabbage salad, pickles, bread and butter, pie and cake cost 50 and 25 for children.


The Prize List from the fair in 1917 gives a real insight into what was important in those early pioneer days. The first category on the prize list was Horses: draft horses (1400 lbs. or over) and light horses (14.2 hands and over). Next was Cattle, broken down into beef and dairy, with 18 classes. Then came Sheep (3 classes), Swine (8 classes) and Poultry (20 classes).


The prize list then changed to Grains and Grasses with a listing of 19 classes. "All sheaves and bundles to be not less than 8 inches in diameter." Then came the list of Roots and Vegetables (25 classes), including the usual vegetables + red cabbage, mangels, vegetable marrow and citron. (What's a mangel? you ask. The dictionary tells me that it's a yellow reddish-orange beet grown mainly to feed cattle.)


The Ladies Department, for which the Women's Institute was in charge, was next. Competition was for butter, eggs, bread (with a separate class for bread baked by a bachelor), cakes, jam, canned fruit/vegetables/pickles, clothing (house dress, boys' suit and girls' dress made from discarded clothing, etc.), needlework, etc.


There were also categories of Children's Work (open to girls) listing 11 classes of sewing and cooking, and School Work. The 10 classes here included composition book, crayon drawing, pencil sketch, nature study note book and collection of wild flowers.


The final category was Sports which included horse races (two classes), pony potato race (for boys and girls under 16) and children's races.


This unique prize list is a treasure at the Onoway Museum. What is lacking are the ribbons or certificates won by exhibitors. If you have any, the Museum would welcome adding them to the collection.


Entry form
Prize list

Form: The entry fee was 10% of the 1st prize,
ranging from $3.00 to $5.00 for animals.

Prize list: The biggest prizes at the fair ($10.00) went
to the draft horse stallion and light horse stallion.

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Last updated: August 26, 2019