See the presentation video, above.
SOUTH MOUNTAIN — Ninety-one years ago, a little boy helped his father walk their Winchester-area dairy herd eight miles to the cattle show at the South Mountain Fair.
Allison Fawcett, 95, has been a fixture at the annual fair every year since then — a respected cattleman and 4-H leader through the decades who also became a horse showman later in life.
It was in that equine capacity that Fawcett was honoured in a brief outdoor ceremony by the fairgrounds where the horse show ring has been renamed in his honour.
Local fair organizers delivered the news to the nonagenarian last Friday, presenting him with a miniature version of the sign that will be installed at the ring, which is due for new fencing and seating in the spring as well. The new ‘Allison Fawcett Show Ring’ sign features an image of himself as well as grandson Will at the reins of his horse-drawn show wagon.
Fawcet enjoyed a 30-year stint showing teams of horses — a hobby he took up in 1985, retiring in 2015. He “was and still is considered one of the best sportsmen among his peers in the show world,” said Mountain Township Agricultural Society director Dermid O’Farrell at the brief ceremony outside the Ag Hall.
“We thought it was proper and due time to honour you, Allison,” said O’Farrell, inviting the honouree to see the new sign and revitalized ring. “If there’s a Fair next year, we hope to have you out again, and we hope to have you out anyway to do this all over again.”
While COVID-19 compelled the cancellation of the 2020 South Mountain Fair, Fawcett — resident of a Kemptville retirement home these days — couldn’t be kept away from the fairgrounds for a 4-H cattle show on what would have been fair weekend last August — his 91st annual consecutive appearance at the site. The virus kiboshed the 2020 fair but failed to cancel Fawcett’s unbroken attendance streak!
“I’d like to say that it’s been a great pleasure over the years I attended South Mountain Fair. There hasn’t been a fair that I didn’t enjoy. I came here when I was pretty young, I didn’t know … where South Mountain was,” said a grateful Fawcett to the group. “But I’ve really enjoyed the fair, and I’ve enjoyed the progress it’s made continuously, right from the first time I was here, and I attended 90 of them. And I have to say a big thank you to all the ones … the work they have done continuously to improve this fair. And it’s been my pleasure, thank you very much.”
Fawcett bought his first team of ‘commercial’ horses — a class of crossbred light and heavy animals — from premier exhibitor Jim McKay. He combined his Hackney and Clydesdale crosses with fine harnesses made by the best in the business — Al Barrett — and a show wagon that O’Farrell likened to a fine piece of furniture. Son-in-law Bert Doornwaard reconditioned the wagon.
“He always had a good team, and it was a good time. I just want to congratulate him. It’s good to see this ring [named after him],” said Doornwaard, who is married to Fawcett’s daughter, Myrna.
“We’ve had great talks,” said Fawcett’s friend, Carson Hill, a past president of the Metcalfe Fair. “The thing that I enjoy so much about Allison is he’s a living atlas, and he’s a living history book, and he has told me so much about this community and fairs and things, and he can tell you what happened yesterday, or he can tell you what happened 90 years ago … It’s just been a pleasure to know Allison.”