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Harrow Fair celebrates local agriculture and arts



by Adam Gault

The community celebrated an Essex County tradition, older than Canada itself, over the Labour Day weekend as the 164th annual Harrow Fair took place. Thousands of visitors descended on the Harrow Fairgrounds to celebrate local arts and agriculture over the course of the fun-filled, four-day event.

  Visitors to the fair had the opportunity to get up close with prize-winning farm animals. They also got to see longstanding fair traditions, such as the annual pie auction, homemade crafts and quilts displays, equestrian competitions, and an incredible array of live entertainment.

  The Timmy Mac Band took to the stage on Sunday afternoon, which Harrow native, Tim McDonald, fronted.

  With its classic rock, county, and folk sound, the four-piece band kept the crowd rocking with its original compositions and covers of classic hits. This performance marked the first time the area band had taken to the stage at the Harrow Fair. It was also the first time in more than 20 years that McDonald himself had taken to the stage at the illustrious event.

  “I think it’s a great honour for me to be able to play in front of my hometown crowd,” McDonald explained prior to the performance. “Back in 1997, I opened here for Jason McCoy by myself. That was the last time I played here. So today, it’s a real honour to play here.”

  McDonald also explained the Harrow Fair was, and continues to be, a great opportunity to highlight the benefits and culture of small-town and country living to people who may not be all that familiar with the lifestyle.

  “It’s so important for the city people to come out to a country fair, without a beer tent, and see all the livestock, and have the families enjoy everything that a small-town country fair has to offer,” McDonald said. “And I think that’s why it’s been so big for so many years, for that one reason.”

  In addition to incredible local musical performances, one can’t think of the Harrow Fair without the contributions from so many in the local agricultural industry, which includes award-winning animals that continue to showcase Essex County as one of the country’s premier farming communities.

  13-year-old Taylor Brush has been involved at the fair for several years now, and in addition to her involvement with 4-H, she won top prizes for showing cattle from Harrow-based farm, Haystack Acres.

  “It was about five years ago when I came to the Harrow Fair and [Haystack Acres was] here showing in a ten and under class,” Brush explained of her early involvement in showing. “I just wanted to try it, and I showed a 1300-pound bull my first time. After that, I tried 4-H my first year when I was nine, and I just really like it, so I keep doing it every year.”

  Numerous factors are taken into consideration when judging a bovine presentation, including the straightness of the animal’s back, hindquarters, the depth of the ribs, as well as the condition of the feet.

  The quality of the animal, however, is not the only consideration when it comes to top prize. How the presenter controls and presents the animal is just as important to the overall awarding process.

  But to many like Brush, the most important and memorable part of the Harrow Fair are not the awards or prizes, but the connections and friendships made, which can last a lifetime.

  “[It is] all the different friendships you make throughout all of it, and it’s fun just to be around everyone, and share the really good experiences.”

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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