From the left: Rob Gowan (ring steward), judge Bobby Tolhurst, Stormonot 4-H Grand Champion Showperson Jasmine Uhr; Stormont 4-H Reserve Champion Showperson Nadia Uhr and Stormont 4-H Honourable Champion Showperson Grace Builting. Thompson Goddard Photo

STORMONT – When you think of the Stormont County Fair (commonly referred to as the Newington Fair by many) the phrase that first comes to mind is tradition. When you’ve been doing something for 156 years, there must be a whole lot of tradition involved, and sometimes that is what you need more than anything else. It is what makes people come back year after year.

This year’s fair got off to a bit of a rocky start. Some of the midway rides didn’t arrive, and an employee was injured in the unloading of a piece of equipment. As well, some vendors were still setting up and unable to welcome guests. All of this, however, was just a speedbump on the way to Friday’s main attraction, which was the demolition derby.

If you’ve lived in this area for any amount of time, then you know the place to be on the Friday before Labour Day is in Newington and at the demo derby. This year was no exception, and people were staking out their spot shortly after 4:00 p.m. when the gates opened. When the engines started to roar and the dirt started to fly, you probably couldn’t have squeezed another person in if you wanted to. A ring of people gathered around the perimeter of the seating area, and while you couldn’t see much, you could hear the noise and smell the exhaust. Being there, you see, is what it is all about, and on a beautiful summer evening, where else would you want to be?

On Saturday, the fair was greeted warm weather and sunny skies, and, with a full slate of activities, it wasn’t difficult to spend the day watching softball, viewing the 4-H activities, supporting the food trucks, and visiting the various vendors. There was also pony rides and a petting zoo, along with cattle and horse competitions. Later in the morning The Junkyard Symphony arrived to provide some musical entertainment.

With the announcement that the parade would be arriving shortly, many people moved to the grandstand to cheer and applaud as local celebrities and just plain folks paraded by. The fair was officially opened by Stormont-Dundas and South Glengarry MPP Nolan Quinn, who spoke about how many different things make people look forward to the time when the fair returns to their community, encouraging them to maintain the tradition.

“As the other politicians have stated, thank you to all the volunteers, the board of directors that you know worked tirelessly to make sure that this happens year in, year out,” said Quinn. “One hundred and fifty-six years does not happen without a very dedicated board of directors. I have my family here, they’re eating lots of sugar up on the stands, which they always love to do at the fairs. My family looks forward to all the fairs, whether it’s the midway or the petting zoo, or, you know the pony rides in that regard as well as the slushies, the cotton candy, and all the foods that come with it, the mini donuts as well.

“But again, thank you to everyone on behalf of the province of Ontario. We’re excited to be here for the 156th edition of the Stormont County Fair and I know the derby last night was full; my parents were here with my nephew, and they enjoyed themselves. I know it’s always a big part of the events. So, with that I officially open the 156th Stormont County Fair.”

Even as he spoke, you can be sure that thoughts of how to make next year’s 157th edition even better were running through the minds of many. It is, after all, a tradition.