History of the Ancaster Agricultural Society and the Ancaster Fair.

The Ancaster Agricultural Society is celebrating 169 years this year with the Ancaster Fair September 19-22. Back in the year 1850, the present Ancaster Agricultural Society was organized. This annual event was recognized as an Official Incorporation following the Baldwin Act which established the first Provincial Agricultural Association, of which Ancaster was a member.

Ancaster Agricultural Society, or Ancaster Fair, was centered in the village of Ancaster near the intersection of Wilson and Academy Streets on the farmland of T. Hammill. This site is beside the Old Union Hotel, which is where the Coach and Lantern Restaurant now operates. Animals and agricultural crops were displayed in the area adjacent to the hotel. Fancy goods were shown in the school on Academy Street and the horse races were held on the Mohawk Trail. These races headed easterly half-mile on the street now known as Rousseau to the first side road.

In 1876 a drill hall was built behind the Old Town Hall and the Agricultural Society was allowed to use it for the growing fair.

Due to the growth of the fair, it became necessary to relocate. Just west of its first site, was the Ancaster Driving Park at the intersections of Wilson and Jerseyville streets. Sammy’s Restaurant now stands on part of this land. This second location was rented for $10 per acre per year. To help cover this expense, an admission charge was instituted. This charge was .15 for double rigs and .10 for single rigs. Also offered for the first time at this new location, was entertainment. The Carluke Band became the first band hired at a cost of $10 for the day.

Two years later, in 1896, the Driving Park became available for sale and the society was able to purchase the 13 acres for $2000.

The fair continued to become more prosperous and again, 2 years later in 1898, a board fence was built on the west side of the grounds, a well was dug, and a pump was installed. 1899 brought about acetylene gas lamps inside the town hall and drill hall which enabled the exhibits to be illuminated. It was also the year of the first baby show.

At the turn of the century name badges were printed on ribbon instead of cardboard. The Society began paying judges 75 cents a day plus expenses.

In 1902 Lady Directors were appointed for the first time. A tug of war, races and a spelling bee were offered for the children. The spelling bee winners were driven around the track and stopped in from of the judges to sing songs.

Rumour has it that liquor would not be allowed at the fair after 3 ladies attended the annual meeting in 1906.

A year later the Militia Department approved the relocation of the Drill Hall from behind the Town Hall down the road from the fairgrounds onto the new grounds.

1911 brought about the building of a grandstand on the fairgrounds by the Ancaster Grandstand Company. This grandstand was later purchased 18 years later.

Infantile Paralysis Epidemic reached Ancaster in the year 1937, and under the orders of Dr. Speers. Medical Health Officer, the fair was cancelled. It’s one and only time. A picnic was held instead.

Continually growing, the fair had become too large for its present site, and so in 1949 the Ancaster Agricultural Society purchased 62 acres at the corner of Garner and Southcote Roads.

Today, after growing yet again, it is located at the corner of Wilson Street West and Trinity Road at the west end of Ancaster.

Today’s fair boasts a large number of entrants. In 1850 we recorded 1700 entries into competition. Today, we have close to 12000 entries from almost 1000 exhibitors.

Bring out your families and join us and experience what 164 years of agriculture means to us. We’ll show you a grand time!

Case IH
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