Burgeoning Chesterville Agricultural Society optimistic about 2018

Directors who attended the the Chesterville Fair Board's latest annual general meeting. Front, from left: Deb Angel, Carol Johnson (president) and Ashley Johnson. Back, from left: Anne McLean, Gord Johnson, Kim Link, Rylee Keeler, and Ann and Peter Vanderlind. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

CHESTERVILLE — The operators of the Chesterville Fair look forward to building on the momentum of a successful year that saw the Chesterville & District Agricultural Society finish the year in the black — and with a higher than usual (in recent years) number of faces around the annual general meeting table.

The Society’s bottom line was helped in 2017 by the addition of new events at the fairgrounds not limited to activities occurring at the official Fair in August. Tops on the list was the new October demolition derby that filled the Chesterville grandstands during an autumn event for possibly the first time in decades.

An emotional Society President Carol Johnson expressed thanks to her colleagues and the community for supporting the 2017 fair, her first as president.

Johnson, who was acclaimed as president for a second year at the AGM, marvelled at having 13 of 16 potential directors’ posts filled at the conclusion of the Jan. 21 session — breaking with a trend of declining public interest in volunteering with the fair board.

Johnson and her fellow board members welcomed Peter and Ann Vanderlind as new directors — with Peter Vanderlind vowing to pursue corporate funding and sponsorship for a bigger and better 2018 Fair than ever.

Precursor to that approach was the landing of a grant from MB Foster Associates — whose founder, Birket Foster, is a co-owner of Storm Internet where both Vanderlinds are employed. Foster’s $700 donation went toward a new cloud-based online scoring and registration system that’s will bring the Fair’s traditional homecraft competitions into today’s world. Soon, the white-coated judges looking at the year’s best flowers, pickles, preserves and cookies will render their decisions on handheld tablets instead of clipboard and old-fashioned paper, Johnson suggested. The scores will be tabulated instantly, saving time on judging day.

“They can do so much with that software,” Johnson said, adding that Chesterville had been trailing other fairs in adopting the AssistExpo system, which is also used by the umbrella organization for fairs in the province, the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies.

Chesterville Fair President Carol Johnson (centre) poses with Jim Angel, who holds the new Chesterville & District Agricultural Society logo created by his 18-year-old daughter Kelsey (absent). Destiny Wicks, 12, placed second with her entry (right). Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

To mark a new era, the Society debuted a new logo at the meeting. Eighteen-year-old Kelsey Angel, a George Brown College student, won the logo contest with her stylized design featuring a rising sun/ferris wheel behind a vintage tractor. The board also recognized Destiny Wicks, 12, for her second-place entry.

The theme of change continued with the arrival of a new treasurer and secretary to serve the board, with Scott McLean and Nicole Lauzon respectively agreeing to fill those roles. Longtime former director and former president Dan Gasser has returned to the board as well.

Other directors this year include Gord Johnson (the president’s father), Ashely Johnson (the president’s niece), poultry-show spearhead Rylee Keeler, Kim Link, Deb Angel and Brad Johnston.

Andrea LeClair, Anne McLean (wife of the treasurer), Carolyn Goddard, Brett Bartholomew and Irene Mark sit as associate directors.

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

The Society also received a report from North Dundas Mayor Eric Duncan on this year’s upcoming reconstruction of Queen Street, adjacent the fairgrounds. Duncan pledged to work to with the Society to ensure minimal to disruption to the 2018 Chesterville Fair, Aug. 24-26.

Birket Foster turns over a $700 cheque to Chesterville & District Agricultural Society for new AssistExpo software to help bring the Fair into the 21st century. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News