Chesterville Agricultural Society marks successful 2018, lands Rotary and Lions Club grants

This year's (2019) directors on the Chesterville & District Agricultural Society board, from left, Scott McLean (treasurer), Ann Vanderlind (1st Vice), Peter Vanderlind, Ashley Johnson, Rylee Keeler, Carol Johnson (president) and new director Julie Sullivan. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

CHESTERVILLE — It’s steady-as-she-goes for the operators of the Chesterville Fair, which has marked a turning point with a formula that both boosted revenue and decreased expenses to end up in the black for 2018.

The shift away from a mechanical midway in favour of a carnival featuring mostly bouncy castles and games returned dividends for the organization, reversing a money-losing trend over the last number of years.

Mechanical midway operators have become scarce in Ontario. With few competitors left in the industry, they’ve become very expensive to woo into smaller communities.

But the crowds still came out to support their local fair in Chesterville last year.

Combined with a pay-one-price admission structure, the changes allowed the Fair to “hit our niche last year,” remarked Chesterville Agricultural Society director Peter Vanderlind during the group’s annual general meeting late last month. “It’s good financial news. All in all it looks like we’re heading in the right direction again.”

“We accomplished a lot this year,” said Society President Carol Johnson, highlighting a slew of electrical and lighting improvements done to the fairgrounds with the help of Thompson Electric and Dundas Power Line.

The Society in 2018 also saw the second annual return of a substantial post-Fair event with Ontario Demolition Derby’s ‘October-Smash Season Ender Bender’ — a regional demolition derby championship event that again drew a crowd to the grandstands when the fairgrounds have typically stood silent.

The cattle barn at the Chesterville fairgrounds also hosted  a successful fall poultry sale as a follow-up to the Fair’s newly revived poultry show organized by Director Rylee Keeler.

“We’re always looking for creative ideas” to make the Fair “bigger and better,” noted Johnson.

The directors also say they continue to look for more volunteers.

The meeting saw Ann Vanderlind move up to the position of 1st Vice President, with Johnson accepting another year as president and Scott McLean remaining as  treasurer. The board added a new director, Julie Sullivan, while several individuals serve as Associcate Directors — including Deb Angel, Carol Goddard, Kelly Sommerville, Brett Bartholomew, Andrea LeClair, Irene Mark and Ann McLean.

For 2019, the group plans to improve the fairgrounds with the installation of a new fenced-in show ring for equestrian and cattle events. Donations of $2,500 apiece from the Chesterville Lions Club and Chesterville Rotary Club will help make the $8,000-plus project a reality this year.

Making his pitch to Pioneer Hi-Bred Canada’s ‘Here’s to Hometowns Giveaway’ contest, Chesterville Fair director Peter Vanderlind outlines a maintenance and project wish list at the local fairgrounds. While the Fair’s video — created with NVN’s help — didn’t win the $50,000 prize, a couple of local service clubs have come forward to assist with one element: a new outdoor cattle and equestrian showring. The Chesterville & District Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Chesterville & District have each contributed $2,500 to that initiative. Watch the clip to see Vanderlind take a leap in the middle of the future ring … and even hug a tree!
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