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.
Markham Fair was not just about the livestock and poultry, parades or even the Midway and shows.
It also featured the best produce from local farms as farmers and individuals alike competed for first place with their harvest. Baking and preserves were judged, and inside other buildings were competitions of a more artistic nature.
For many years, we would painstakingly pass through the aisles of entries for the photo competition silently judging the photos ourselves. By the time 2006 rolled around, our family was beyond admiring the entries because we, too, had submitted photos to be judged.
Our set routine held fast. We toured the livestock barns and poultry house first thing in the morning. A pass through the Midway preceded going into those buildings housing the Homecraft Exhibits and General Exhibits. It was intentional to delay seeing the results of our entries into the various competitions. With anticipation building, I could hardly contain myself.
Unable to wait any longer, we would make a beeline to the appropriate areas to see if we had placed. Although it required a little extra effort on my part, I encouraged our daughter to submit photos into a few different categories. She was unable to deliver the photos to the fairgrounds or pick them up when the Fair was over.
Always having an eye for composition and photography, our daughter’s photo took first place in the category Photographer’s Choice.
Not to be outdone by his sister, our youngest son had entered a black-and-white sketch into an art category for his age group.
We were all so excited to find that he had taken first place and also was awarded Best in Show for his sketch, an honour bestowed on him by The Markham Group of Artists.
Our son’s entries did not end there. Having taught himself well, our son had become adept at Computer Generated Art, and his entry took first place for that, as well.
To prolong the anticipation of discovering the results, our family would often force itself to walk away from the displays. A pass through the busy Commercial Building was usually quite quick, and it only took a few minutes to procure some fudge or a candy apple.
Whatever happened to the standard candy apple finished in a glossy, crunchy red-sugar coating? So much more appealing in my eyes with that delectable contrast between sweet and tart. Now the options are endless.
Then it would be right back to the General Exhibits to see how the next member of our family fared. Bob took up carving back in early 2000, and already his carvings were gaining some recognition.
His first entry seemed appropriate to the venue when his Wild Boar took second place.
On top of the judges awarding first through fifth place in the competitions, there were certain special awards sponsored by different groups and individuals.
Bob was honoured in 2012 with a Tom Rimmer Memorial Award and first place for a Bowhead Whale that he carved.
Bob was inspired to carve this particular subject after having spent some time in Canada’s Arctic the previous summer filming a documentary about Bowhead Whales.
Bob’s talents were not only for carving. He was pretty handy with a camera too, as his first place win in Relics of Yesteryear attested to.
When we were out and about, Bob and I always hunted for potential objects to photograph that would meet the criteria of categories in the photography competition. Markham Fair had many to choose from.
Markham Fair always encouraged visitors to take photos at the Fair to enter into the following year’s competition. Anything was fair game!
We were good sports and entered this photo of me into the category Something Funny.
For several years, our son took home first place with his entries into sketching and computer generated art.
I, too, held my own with countless photos submitted for judging in many different categories. It was great fun to peruse the endless walls of photos looking for our own entries and the sheer surprise and delight if they placed. Over the years, we must’ve spent a small fortune developing prints and mounting them for display, but it made the Markham Fair so much more enjoyable to have a vested interest in it.
In the years when my outdoor planters managed to escape frost, I would enter them into the Markham Fair competitions. I started out slow with a third place win for a Mixed Outdoor Planter,
and even a third place for Any Other Foliage Plant Not in Bloom. I was thrilled!
By 2013, I was getting the hang of it and took home First Place for Windowbox.
And my Tuberous Begonias also scored a red ribbon. I was over the moon!
Of course, those were not the only competitions that demanded some of our attention. An acquaintance who is a phenomenal baker took home many prizes for her entries.
It was always surprising to see the size of giant pumpkins, huge sunflowers, hefty potatoes, sheafs of wheat, and so much more.
Entries to be judged included flower arrangements, crafts, knitting, quilting. There is something for everyone to appreciate and enjoy.
Exhausted from being on our feet for hours and on a high because of our wins, we were deserving of a special treat.
All the marvelous baked goods in the baking competitions certainly piqued my sweet tooth. Fresh warm donuts to the rescue. Who could resist?
Hope to see you there!