Owing to the covid-19 pandemic, Markham Fair, like so many other events, was canceled for 2020. We thought it fitting, then, to look back in time at Markham Fair as we have experienced it with our family over the past 40 years.
Some things just never change! We made it a tradition to start each Markham Fair visit in the livestock barns. Originally, we delighted in showing our young children the farm animals and giving them an appreciation for farm life. In later years, it was just a matter of reliving past experiences.
A visit to Markham Fair always had to include a pass through the poultry house just so we could marvel at the beauty of the fowl on display.
With our children getting a little older, our interests were expanding, so it was possible to sit in the grandstand and take in some of the outdoor shows.
The Heavy Horse Competition was chock full of grandeur with well turned out animals competing.
The powerful horses are put through their paces as they perform tactical drills while pulling well appointed drays.
Featuring Clydesdale, Percheron and Belgian horses, the Heavy Horse Competition had competitors racking up points as they vied for North America’s Champion and Reserve Champion Six Horse Hitch of the year.
Well into their young adult years, our children joined us when possible for the annual outing to Markham Fair. We always went on Saturday when the majority of the live entertainment shows and competitions were performed and judged.
Getting an early start at the fairgrounds meant that sustenance was required well before noon.
Did I mention how being at the Fair brings out the kid in all of us?
Other outdoor entertainment across the years included Medieval Knights, dog trials, Demolition Derby, stunt bikes, parades, plus a host of other shows.
By 2006, we were really getting into the swing of things. My daughter and I entered into the Chip and Block Competition. The object of the competition was to find the 2 family members who most resemble one another.
Though we did not win the year that we entered, it was great fun participating. It gave us some ownership in the proceedings because we were involved.
The older Bob and I got, the less likely we were to go on any midway rides, but some of the fun was just observing other people as they did so.
The same could not be said for our kids. The Tilt-a-Whirl always delivered a thrill when you got the compartment spinning non-stop while it was being thrust around a wide rotating circular platform.
Our two oldest kids were no longer living at home, so attending Markham Fair together was a good opportunity to reconnect and share some quality time together.
One game that the whole family enjoyed in the Midway was Whac-a-mole. The object of the game was to bop a mole on the head as it popped up into view. Its appearances were random so much guess work and fast reflexes were involved to score the most hits.
If games of chance weren’t your cup of tea, a test of one’s own strength was another option for a bit of fun.
The blaring music, chants of the stall operators, aromas from the food vendors, and colourful lights all combined to create the atmosphere that exists at fall fairs everywhere.
One of the nice things about Markham Fair is the wide variety of fast food on offer. Everyone can choose something different, and healthy options were often overlooked.
At Markham Fair, we gave ourselves permission to indulge in hand-cut french fries and other sinful choices, but one of the most favoured foods for sale was Broasted Chicken.
It was ideal to wander as we munched. There was entertainment found around every corner. As the years progressed, we saw a change in the level of wandering performers. More daring acts were being hired to wow the crowd.
Performers displaying feats of skill and agility met with appreciative crowds.
But always a presence welcoming children and kids at heart to the fairgrounds was the Markham Fair’s mascot, Faircrow.
Our family always made the most of our day at Markham Fair staying from opening time well into the evening. A visit wasn’t complete without a walkabout the Midway once darkness fell.
Set in the countryside outside of Markham, Ontario, Markham Fairgrounds are wrapped in a cloak of utter darkness once the sun sets. That is when the spinning, throbbing, flashing lights of the Midway really came to life.
Even the tamest of attractions seemed more glorious and intriguing under the cloak of darkness.
The signal for us that it was time to go home was the dramatic fireworks. Though the Midway and Beer Tent would remain open for a good while afterwards, we were all in but the shoelaces. Many more wonderful experiences were now made part of our Markham Fair memories.