One day we will all look back on 2020 as the year the world suddenly stopped.
With a little luck, and responsible citizenship, we’ll also see 2021 as the year we got to start it up again.
As people in Markham, and all over the world, wonder what the future of our events, gatherings, and traditions will look like, organizers like Markham Fair’s President, Amanda King are putting plans into action.
“We are very excited to provide an event for our community!” explains King. “Last year was the first time in 176 that we didn’t have an event-it was a very difficult decision-so we’re very excited to be back.”
It might not entirely be the Fair you remember however.
“It’s called Markham Fair in a Flash,” explains King. “It’s going to be a very similar event but different.” Markham Fair in a Flash: Farming Our Way Back is the full name of this year’s event and fair goers should expect a socially distanced walkthrough event.
The intent is to go back to Markham’s agricultural roots and feature things like farming implements, tractors, combines old and new, lots of animals, a small homecraft section (featuring a chance for locals to compete), and a farmer’s market and some concessions.
One of the longstanding features of the fair is live entertainment and this year is no different. This year however, performers will work busker style to entertain as guests make their way through. Larger concerts are not possible to plan for because of concerns about numbers, but King expects them to return next year.
“Beyond having a wonderful fair, our biggest concern is safety for our community,” continues King. “We are an event run by 800 volunteers in addition to our guests. We have to be responsible.”
This year’s fair has been through many meetings and stages dating back to January of this year. They initially started with the idea of a virtual event but as things looked more and more possible, a drive through event was planned in some detail.
“Everything changes daily and weekly and that’s been, I guess, the hardest part for us to plan,” King says. “So we started with a drive-thru; and then as the stages started opening up we said, ‘You know what, we can do a walk-through’. If we can be outside, we can be back together…at least socially distanced.”
Back together is a wonderful goal these days, especially for a tradition that is a cornerstone of community and social gathering for so many in Markham.
“In my younger years, the fair was a time to hang out with friends, stay out later than we were usually allowed, and maybe toy with the idea of getting into innocent trouble,” says Jen Kee who was born and raised in Markham but now tours the world as a professional singer. “The fair just transported me to another world that was so far removed from my suburban upbringing, it’s what I look forward to every year.”
“It’s totally about being a Markhamite,” says Larrisa Halko, now a high school teacher with the YRDSB. “Even as Markham became less rural, the fair became about Markham identity. It’s a place to be with friends and family.”
Of course, one of the best ways to get involved with the Fair is to enter one of its many competitions and this year is no different. Interested potential competitors should go to www.markhamfair.ca to get details for entry and submissions.
“There’s a lot of art, building, and creative categories for people to enter,” explains King. “From Largest Pumpkin to Best Flower Arrangement, there are many areas for people to compete and participate in. We want to engage the community.”
King says that those coming to the fair this year should expect about a 90 minute walkthrough of exhibits and that tickets this year are being sold for the greatly reduced price of five dollars each.
“We want to be a good community partner and offer the best, affordable event we can for our community,” King says.
The trick this year is that tickets will be for a specific time in order to maintain proper social distancing. Keep this in mind when planning your trip to the Fair this year!.
Markham Fair in a Flash: Farming Our Way Back runs from September 30th through October 3rd. Tickets are $5 and available at www.markhamfair.ca
Photo: Fair organizers get ready for the return. (L-R) Phil Redshaw, Amanda King, Wendy Harris, Todd Silverman, Scott Redshaw.