Come to the 166th Shawville Fair!

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Since 1856 the Shawville Fair has invited us to celebrate our agricultural heritage – so why not grab your family, friends and colleagues and really “support local” farming initiatives?

Back in 1856, the land was donated as a fair ground by James Shaw and, the Pontiac Agricultural Society’s website explains, the “first fair had no building, no media, no show ring.

They showed around a large pine stump. Then came horse racing.”

The next landmark noted in the website’s chronology was that in 1886, “People came from Aylmer on the train.” That would have been the PPJ railway: Pontiac Pacific Junction (“affectionately” called the Push, Pull and Jerk” by travellers of the day).

Sadly, the train no longer connects the MRC Pontiac to Gatineau and Ottawa. As cyclists know, however, after the tracks were removed eventually the train bed was transformed into the PPJ Cyclopark. So today, perhaps some Fair visitors will arrive by bicycle.

In 1898 the octagonal building was built for $5,000, designed by Moses Chamberlain Edey. This renowned, Pontiac-born architect also designed Ottawa’s Aberdeen Pavilion and many churches, residences, and town halls throughout the Ottawa Valley. Sadly, in 1985, Edey’s octagonal structure burned.

Technological changes

As the years slip by, the Fair evolves.

And of course, innovations in technology directly affect the content of the fair. For instance, long gone is the 1888 “very important Stallion Exhibition.” Teams of horses are no longer used to plough fields, haul logs from the bush, or serve as cabs and delivery “horse power.” Instead, they’ve shifted into becoming beloved animals of recreational and sports users, where only a few people still do selective logging with breeds such as Le petit cheval de fer – the

Canadian horse.

The Fair’s horse shows reflect this fundamental change, where now we visit demonstrations of barrel racing and watch the Light Horse Show (1:00 Sunday September 4 in the Arena). Nonetheless, horses’ past ties to the land are somewhat recalled through the Heavy Draft Horse Hitch Show held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday September 2 and the Draft Heavy Horse Line Classes at 10:00 on Saturday September 3.

Opportunities to learn

Agricultural fairs have another outstanding purpose: to educate community members about food production, whether it be at a Certified Organic Farm, a cash crop outfit, growing dairy or beef cattle or other meat animals such as goats, pigs or lambs.

Discover this year’s fair schedule in this paper – or online at the Expo Shawville Fair website (shawvillefair.ca). Catch the proud owners and caregivers of the Holstein and Jersey dairy cattle at 11:00 on Friday, September 2. Learn about the kids’ program called 4H at that organization’s Regional Club Show, 9:00 a.m. on Sunday September 4.

Opportunities to celebrate community

Many of us have questions concerning sustainable agricultural practices. There’s no better time than this fair for we the public to meet our farm producers, watch them proudly compete with their animals, produce and equipment than at our Shawville Fair. So, come to the Fair. Engage in conversations. Learn about food production and food security.

See you at the fair?

Visit Katharine at the Pontiac Artists’ Association’s booth at the fair, where she and other artists will be representing artPontiac during the Shawville Fair.

Contact Katharine at fletcher.katharine@gmail.com