By Chad Ingram
Published Dec. 22 2016
After a century and half it may be the end of the road for the Haliburton County Fair.
If the fair is unable to attract new directors for its board it’s likely its tent will fold early in 2017.
“For 2017 the reality for Minden is that half the board is stepping down” board secretary Anne Cox told the Times . “Without an infusion of new blood on the board and more volunteers I am afraid that the annual general meeting in January will see an announcement of the discontinuance of the Haliburton County Fair.”
There are currently five members on the fair board which should ideally have a dozen members. “Some of the members coming off the board have said they would help out” Cox said explaining those outgoing directors are willing to help train and mentor incoming members.
Generally Cox said a director needs to be able to commit to one meeting per month as well as be available to help out with the fair itself.
A dearth of volunteers has been a problem not just for the Haliburton County Fair but other fairs in the area as well.
“It isn’t just the Haliburton County Fair that is experiencing difficulties” Cox said. “There are a couple of fairs in our district that have folded in 2016. There are others that are experiencing difficulties volunteers being the lack of probably the No. 1. problem.”
The fair board has tried different strategies in recent years in attempt to boost attendance at the annual event. While for many years the fair was held over a weekend in August last year it was moved to a single day in June.
This combined with the ideas of some newer younger directors – including more interactive children’s programming – did see youth attendance spike by a few hundred.
“Last year was probably one of the better fairs we’ve had in a long time.” Cox said. “[The new directors] are young and they’re keen. It was more interactive. I think the parents were engaged more.”
While the Haliburton County Fair offers children’s attractions such as inflatable castles slides etc. it has been several years since it had midway rides. Cox said people often ask why the fair doesn’t have a midway.
“We hear that constantly” she said. “It’s very simple. The rides come based on gates. If you don’t have big gates you can’t even pay to have the rides come.”
Since midway companies operate on volume Cox said it’s not feasible for the fair to bring in midway rides.
One year the board tried to rent a Ferris wheel and was told it would cost $10000 for the day.
In recent years it has introduced a one-price gate entry fee that has been popular with attendees.
In addition to more board members the positions of treasurer and secretary with the fair board are also open.
The annual general meeting of the Haliburton County Fair board will take place at the Minden United Church on Saturday Jan. 21 at 5 p.m.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the fair or seeking more information can call Cox at 705-286-6155; president Casey Cox at 705-457-0444; or second vice-president Andrea Coysh at 705-286-6753.