Someone’s popular
Megan Maxwell didn’t seem to realize how popular she would be at the petting zoo, holding out a handful of food for all the goats. Glover photo

Washing up
Ceilidh Newman prepares a calf for competition.
Van Dusen photo

RUSSELL – It’s all over but issuing the cheques and cleaning up the grounds. That’s what Agricultural Society Manager Elizabeth Ferguson is overseeing as area residents bid a final adieu to the 161st Russell Fair which closed on Sunday.

Ferguson said she’ll write about 100 cheques to suppliers and prize winners, with some multi winners earning upwards of $1,000.

While attendance numbers were down largely because of erratic weather, the most recent fair has been judged a success because of enthusiastic participation on several fronts, including hosting the largest sheep show in Eastern Ontario this year.

Final numbers weren’t tabulated by Villager deadline, but Ferguson said her sense is that attendance took a relatively minor hit because of heavy rain Friday night, continuing off and on Saturday, and the threat of more rain for part of Sunday.

Time for a trim
Sheep shearer Bruce Bennett pauses to take a photo.
Van Dusen photo

“Our hardliners don’t let us down,” she mused. “They were there for the dances on Friday and Saturday, and the bleachers at the demolition derby were packed.” For live entertainment, the society opted this year for more economical local bands Sticks ‘n Stones Friday and the Riley New Band Saturday.

Society president Theresa Wever agreed that, while there may have been a dip in attendance compared to last year when weather was exceptional for three days, overall the fair was successful.

The demo derby stands were so packed, in fact, that many fans couldn’t get a seat and were ordered by the announcer not to stand in the alleyway close to the fence around the track. Several were disappointed not to get a clear view of the action.

Competing junkyard cars, high-powered trucks, and tractors were a big part of the action at the fair as was the antique machinery coordinated by North Russell collector Henry Staal displayed at the centre of the fairgrounds. Staal said he received many compliments about the arrangement including from other collectors who labelled it one of the finest antique shows in Eastern Ontario.

Other, quieter vehicles which drew high crowd approval were the Craze Crew BMX bikes set up on the south side of the curling rink which flew through the air with the greatest of ease accomplishing spins, flips and pirouettes along the way. Another vehicle taking part was a Chrysler PT Cruiser hoisted off the ground during the Strongman Competition.

The variety of attractions at this year’s fair was endless, everything from livestock of many descriptions including exotic breeds brought in by Little Ray’s Reptiles, to a baby contest – every baby won a prize – sheep shearing demonstration, Robertson Amusements Midway, and Giant Tiger Pancake Breakfast. For the first time in years, there was no display from the Heritage Livestock Club of Eastern Ontario, with the club’s usual space occupied by a general farm animal presentation.

Education Day displays and kids’ entertainment provided in the Corvinelli-sponsored tent kept young fairgoers – and their parents – amused and informed all weekend long.

During the official opening Friday evening in the Curling Cub, long-time fair volunteer Jim Sullivan was recognized and got to cut the ribbon along with Wever, Russell Mayor Pierre Leroux, and area MP Francis Drouin. Pegi Holtz accepted a Thank You plaque on behalf of the Russell Horticultural Society for its long time contribution.