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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Harrow gets a taste of the fair

- mom and dad calling contest, selfie challenge, community church service held -

by Sylene Argent

Though the 166th Annual Harrow Fair will go down in the record books as a missed tradition, due to COVID-19, elements of the long-standing event were held over the Labour Day weekend to recognize the impact the annual Fair has had on the community for over a century-and-a-half.

  Last Friday, the annual Harrow Fair Mom and Dad Calling Contest was held out at the fairgrounds.

  Essex Councillor Sherry Bondy, quickly organized the event, with the help of other volunteers, in an effort to revive an element of the annual Fair for area youths to enjoy.

“I was just joking that all summer, my kids have been yelling ‘mom!’” Bondy said. She shared that story, while chitchatting with other Fair supporters recently, and a small group of individuals then decided to host the small contest for youths, following social distancing protocols.

Bondy noted Kathy Beaudoin organized a good portion of the event, Colette McLean stepped in as a moderator and judge – and also made the buttons and ribbons presented to the youth contenders, and the popular Brenda Anger also helped judged as a long-standing supporter and volunteer of the Harrow Fair.

  Nearly 15 little ones tried their best to out-yell their competition in the contest. One age group was offered for the youths, between the ages of two and eight, who competed.

  Each of the youths received a ribbon and a cool treat for participating, and a back-to-school supply kit, that fellow organizer Anne Marie Grant sponsored.

  “It was nice to get back to the tradition and get the children out. We made sure everyone was social distancing. This morning, it was cute, someone said they heard the kids calling ‘mom’ [a few blocks away last night]. A small piece of Harrow Fair came alive for a half-an-hour,” Bondy said the following morning.

  McLean was also pleased to see the youth who came out to participate, and said it was great to see the spirit of the Fair come alive for a short time.

  In addition to the Mom and Dad Calling Contest, a selfie contest was also held over the Labour Day weekend in Harrow. Bondy explained that resident Lee-Ann Swarts puts up a unique Harrow Fair display in her yard every year.

  With the 166th Harrow Fair being cancelled, Bondy said Swarts re-named her 2020 display the “Harrow Un Fair.”

  Area residents and Fair supporters have been taking a lot of pictures at the display and building memories, Bondy noted, adding there have been a few businesses that have donated prizes for a draw-style contest for those who posted their selfies. She said she got a lot of laughs at some of the selfies posted to social media, which included one with a dinosaur, an appearance from the Teves family, which is currently trying to get on Family Feud Canada, and a few dogs who posed for pics, as well.

  “It was something to bring the community together and have a laugh,” Bondy said.

  On Sunday, the Harrow Ministerial group – which consists of the Harrow United Church, St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, the Harrow Mennonite Church, and St. Mark Evangelical in Colchester – teamed up to host the annual Harrow Fair community church service in the parking lot of the Harrow Soccer Complex.

  The event was held because a similar service was held on Canada Day to raise spirits during the pandemic, Reverend Darrow Woods of Harrow United Church explained. He noted community members wanted to host a community church service again, and decided Labour Day Weekend, would be a good time to do so.

  Woods noted the Harrow Ministerial group asked the Harrow Fair Board permission to host the service under the event’s brand, and was given an appreciative nod.

  Woods noted around 80 people attended the service in around 35 cars. Those in each vehicle were either family members or in the same social bubble. A space was left open between each parked vehicle to ensure social distancing.

  “People around Harrow are really missing the Fair,” Woods said. “People like to connect.”

  Upon wrapping up the church service, a non-perishable food collection was held. A pickup truck was parked at the facility’s entrance as the drop-off location for the donations. Items collected were forwarded to the Harrow Food Bank, which uses the facility at the soccer complex to sort and store donations.

  People, Woods said, still need some help as the pandemic is navigated. The June 27th Miracle food drive was great, he said, but there is still need out there.

  Those who organized the service, Woods said, were grateful to the Harrow Fair Board for the support, to the Town of Essex for waiving the activity fee to use the facility, and to the OPP detachment for the helpful guidance in directing the organizers as to what was allowed and how to hold the event safely. They were also appreciative of the Harrow Rotary Club for providing the sound system for the event.

  “There was a lot of community effort and cooperation. It is a good feeling. People are missing human contact. It was nice to wave and say ‘hello,’ and ask how people were doing,” Woods added.


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