Roxborough Agricultural Society History
The Roxborough Agricultural Society was incorporated in 1858. In October of 1860 the society held its first exhibition, on the streets of Avonmore, or Hough’s Mill’s, as it was known at the time. The Exhibition moved around, spending some time in Moose Creek, Avonmore, Gravel Hill, and Warina. During the early years it was frequently held in conjunction with the annual ploughing match also sponsored by the society.
In 1886 it was held in Gravel Hill on Thursday September 30th. It is reported that upwards of 3000 people attended the show (held on the Begg and Crawford’s farms) in bright sunny weather. The Cornwall Standard Newspaper reports: “Mr. Runion’s photographic gallery…did a tremendous business…having their features transferred to glass, as a lasting memento… Stalls laden with cider, ginger ale and candles surrounded the fair grounds, and were also greatly patronized…and it was generally remarked by those who attended from Cornwall, that the Gravel Hill show was a long way ahead of the county towns. We are of the same opinion. At the Roxborough Show there was life, enterprise and considering the surroundings, a deal better management…”.
In 1888 Oscar Fulton, Avonmore Businessman and former M.P. offered a special prize of $20.00 providing the show was held in Avonmore. It has been the Avonmore Fair ever since, but at four different locations. The first two locations were leased, while the last two have been owned by the Society. The Avonmore Driving Park was home to the Fair from 1888 to 1911, the park was located just east of the Payne River on the south side of what is now Centennial Drive.
In 1891 the Fair was expanded to a two day event. In 1907 the society was officially designated the “Roxborough Agricultural Society with Headquarters in Avonmore”. By 1902 the C.P.R. was running special Fair Trains at reduced rates on its line between Dalhousie and Winchester.
In 1912 the Fair moved to the other end of Avonmore, to the Shaver Farm, on the west side of Main Street, just north of the tracks (and the Grist Mill), the yearly rent was $55.00 and a new exhibition building was built. The Hall cost $250.00 to build, but by 1914 the society was out of debt and in 1918 it had 225 members.
In 1919 the society purchased land east of the village (where Morningside Place is) and moved the Hall to its new home. By 1921 an addition had been built and a well dug. By the 1930 the Fair was attracting good crowds by train, from Cornwall via the New York Central to Finch and via the C.P.R. to Avonmore.
In February of 1948 the Society purchased its present home, a larger site for the sum of $1,800.00. The Fair Building was moved by sleigh to its new home. In 1960 the centennial of the Fair was celebrated with five thousand people witnessing the dedication of the “Centennial Gate” and the plaques that are attached to them.
The Fair had been held in late September/early October, but often encountered cool weather, (a snowstorm in the early 1930’s) prompted a move to an earlier time in the month and in 1968 the Fair was moved to the third week of August. Again in 1983 the Fair moved ahead another month to July, where it has remained.
Throughout all these 145 years, the Fair has relied on its volunteers, who have made it what it is today. It is the only Fair in the township and a chance for the Community to come together each year to celebrate our rural lifestyle and agricultural in this province.
Some Fair Dates from the 1880’s:
1884 – Tuesday Sept 30th at Moose Creek
1885 – Wednesday Sept 30th at Avonmore
1886 – Thursday Sept 30th at Gravel Hill
1887 – Friday Sept 30th at Warina
Since 1888 the Fair has been held in Avonmore