2021 Convention

At the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel & Suites and Conference Centre

See you Feb. 18-20, 2021

Please Contact

Kathryn Lambert,

Convention Administrator

email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Phone: 519-287-3553

Book your Hotel Rooms starting MAY 1ST 


1. Ideas for Celebrating Fair Milestones:

  • Planning should begin a least two years before milestone
  • Put together a time frame to work with
  • Heritage component important to keep in mind
  • Use of period customs
  • History book on fair
  • Bring back former presidents, ambassadors, board members
  • Fashion show using wedding dresses of the time period
  • Homecoming weekend
  • Special music
  • Theme
  • RCMP musical ride
  • Use local journalism to assist with getting out stories relating to history of fair
  • Coincide with other community celebrations
  • Archives - open them to public viewing
  • Booth at fair with local memorabilia of fair's history
  • Apply for special grants to assist with celebrating of the history
  • Fireworks
  • Beard growing competition
  • Floats in locals events
  • Barn dance and New Years Dance to kick-off celebration
  • Brainstorming meeting with various groups that are connected to history
  • Fundraising particular to celebration
  • Pick a specific project on grounds to do (i.e. front gates, building re-dedication
  • Cookbook
  • Have memorabilia to give away
  • Bigger name entertainment
  • Cake to give to participants
  • Use local school children to help with celebrations
  • Tie in with other community events, plowing match
  • Marketing fair and milestone for community
  • Birthday bash for community
  • BBQ with involvement from community including youth
  • Oldest resident of community to be invited for opening and other events for the fair
  • Bagpipe in fair ambassadors/Executive
  • Refurbish fair gates and sell placards to place in gate entrance
  • Antique display
  • Thrashing display using Heritage Associations
  • Volunteers are an important part of celebrations
  • Use the milestone as a fundraising tool selling plaques on a special trophy
  • Raise Awareness early

2. How can OAAS help to promote your fair:

  • Website is a great tool but presently it is not up-to-date and information is old or incorrect. As website is an OAAS tool it is important that they see the importance and need to put it as a priority for up keep.
  • Directory - great tool again needs to be accurate (more needed for local areas as it is a great promotion)
  • Flyer is ok but not as good as full directory
  • Need for good flow of information OAAS and it's members and vice versa
  • Connections needed between fair and OAAS and various other links
  • A link needs to be established between OAAS and Ontario Tourism market
  • Provincial Campaign needs to be established with leadership from the OAAS but buy in from local fairs. Local fairs will need to commit with time, power and financial backing.
  • Establish communication between OAAS and other government agencies.
  • Work with local municipalities on the Economic Growth that the fairs brings to the community. OAAS could provide tools to local fairs that will assist them with this task
  • Promote through various Heritage agencies
  • Some form of traveling show that could go between fairs and be set up and left. (large trailer of some sort)

3. Working with and instructing judges:

  • Each section to look after own judges
  • Homecraft secretary should be in charge of details regarding getting judges
  • Pay a flat rate to judges for cattle, sheep and other livestock
  • Have refreshments available for judges
  • Judge appreciation night
  • Make sure to inform judges what you want from them (letter prior to fair outlining this is a great idea)
  • Make sure that volunteers working with judges understand their role
  • Make sure judges know the field that they are judging
  • Keep area closed while judging is happening
  • Judging schools in district often
  • Make sure judges can not identify the person who has made crafts
  • Speak and ask questions to judges before they began there work
  • Book and prize list need to be accurate for judging
  • Judges should comment if needed on the entry tag
  • Make sure that contract with judge contains all necessary information regarding time of arrival, compensation etc
  • Rules have to be followed as you have presented them
  • How long can a judge be used? Is there a need for a max 2 years mentioned by most fairs

4. Attracting new exhibitors:

  • Prize lists out early
  • Revamping of classes and increase prize money
  • Utilize local fabric stores and craft stores as a place to locate new exhibitors
  • Send preliminary lists to feed stores
  • Get into schools early and had out youth specific lists
  • Word of mouth still number one way to get information out
  • Award night with pot-luck dinner for exhibitors and use time to give money out
  • Adding classes for those with special needs
  • Public awareness is important
  • Use businesses to get information out
  • BIA
  • Sponsors
  • Forms out early
  • Listen to exhibitors and use information from them
  • Suggestion box
  • Pay out prizes quickly
  • Appreciation of individuals is important
  • Getting information out to new families in the area
  • Use mail outs
  • Send out information for 3-5 years before removing from mailing lists

5. Baby Shows:

  • Make sure you have enough sections; longest toes, eyelashes, most hair, least hair, curliest hair; red cheeks etc
  • Have age and sex categories
  • Make sure that every baby is given a gift
  • Have Teddy Bear Clinic and parade as part of baby or the lead up to the baby show
  • Play area for children along with a good and clean baby changing area
  • Baby show can become very large with having between 50 and 100 babies
  • Avoid using language such as "best baby"
  • Prizes are often donated when prize is given, recipient is given an addressed stamped thank you card to send to the gift donor
  • Baby show to be held on Family or Children's Day
  • Gifts for babies is an excellent idea
  • Remember to get permission from care givers before taxing

6. Parking Solutions - what to do when your fair is landlocked:

  • Have township provide signs that are needed for no parking, street closed etc
  • Have an area for over-sized vehicles
  • If individuals have parking passes make sure staff on gates are aware of all passes in use
  • Easier to ask for forgiveness
  • Have an officer to help sort out problems
  • Encourage people to walk
  • Neighbor charges for parking
  • Have a location for bus parking
  • Shuttles are a good idea
  • Hay wagon for transportation also has some insurance issues
  • Parking needs to be supervised
  • Beer tent can have an impact on parking issues - have clear guidelines for parking attendants regarding drinking and driving
  • Purchasing of rail lines or other land for parking needs to be looked at for various fairs
  • Parking restrictions need to be carried due to emergency access
  • Encourage local individuals to use vacant land for parking
  • Good communication within parking lot so that parking is fast and safe
  • Handicap parking on grounds is important

7. Trillium Grants for Fairs:

  • Lot's of paper work
  • Only for inside changes of a building not building a new one
  • Deadlines March/July/November of each year
  • Visit website
  • Important that fair is actively fundraising
  • Farm Credit - Agri-Spirit Grant
  • Eligibility non-profit
  • Apply to local office
  • Writing guidelines on web
  • Use their language
  • Get to know staff and build relationship
  • Volunteers hours are important and need to be recorded
  • Before you apply contact office to see if your request would even be considered
  • Trillium may even play for cost of painting bleachers/stands
  • A lot of Creative Writing
  • Must be registered as charity or incorporated as non-profit Two-levels; up to $15,000 and over $15,000
  • www.trilliumfoundation.org - good tips and examples
  • Fit into their priorities;
    1. enhance success of students,
    2. enhance healthier/physically active Ontario,
    3. enhance employment for families,
    4. provide be more effective for volunteers that are engaged in the community
  • Areas to Target;
    1. Arts and Culture,
    2. Environment i.e. green program and recycling,
    3. Human and Social Services,
    4. Sports and Recreation i.e. healthier
  • Ontario Granting Priorities;
    1. Enhancement to community spaces,
    2. Energy efficiency,
    3. Greening Initiatives,
    4. InnovativeTechnology
  • Grants can be spread over a 5 year period
  • Capital projects only 1 year

8. Creating a workable emergency plan for your fair:

  • Have an emergency response team that will take the lead in an emergency
  • Co-ordinate with community and county response team
  • Evacuation plan for major emergency
  • Talk about plans with all members
  • Signage is important
  • Lost child shut done gate
  • Have one spot were lost children should come to
  • Involve all community emergency organizations
  • Have an proactive plan in place
  • Talk plan over with all individuals with fair
  • Radio's are important for plan
  • Good connection with emergency services in your area are important.
  • Make sure emergency vehicles had direct routes to events on grounds
  • Make sure all directors know how to use fire extinguishers
  • 911 marked in clear spots
  • First aid kits marked well and placed in central area

9. Fair Themes: How do you use your Fair Theme?

  • Decorating contests for local home and businesses
  • Scare crow contest
  • All green as a theme
  • Make advertisements specific to themes
  • Use the theme through all programs and classes
  • Environment theme can be crossed over to various community events
  • On grounds specific to theme i.e. decorating large hay bale
  • Have contests to pick theme
  • Have junior directors pick it
  • Make sure books has theme ideas throughout it
  • Before end of school year work with them on theme specific education
  • Logo contest
  • Base it on other community events
  • Mascot
  • Bee at the fair
  • Theme as cover of material coming out of the fair
  • Decorate all building to match theme
  • Catch phrase relating to theme
  • Parade should incorporate theme in floats
  • Gift bags decorated with theme
  • Get 4-H involved
  • Advertisement to match theme
  • Game show using theme
  • Photography to utilize theme
  • Demonstrations relating to theme activities

10. Low cost activities for youth at your fair:

  • Greased Pig contest by Junior Farmers
  • Lawn tractor pull of teenager drivers
  • Blindfolded lawn tractor slalom - two person team, driver
  • blindfolded, partner using microphone from sidelines
  • Bike racers - categories divided by age or weight
  • Dropping labeled beanbags from a height (pole, cherry picker)
  • into held dollar store buckets - prizes donated by local dollar store
  • Bouncy rides - inflatable
  • Bale roll, several coloured popsicle sticks, numbered are inserted into round bale of straw, prizes donated by dollar store
  • set out on table (or loonies) number of prizes controlled - roll out bale partially, kids can come back and prizes remaining - try again-roll out bale further
  • Log sawing contest, bale throwing, nail hammering, farmer Olympics, do you have it in you to be a farmer?
  • Army obstacle run (ask local contingent to set up)
  • Junior contests in homecraft. Special teen section, with one or two sections from each class (baking, sewing, crafts) taken from their sections but open to teens only
  • Complementary pass to fair for volunteers assistance at outside or/and fundraising activities of the fair
  • Twoonie night more affordable for youth, include with price for unlimited rides at midway
  • Battle of the bands
  • Races and other youth activities-potato sack race, 4 people on a plank, egg and spoon, toothpick and lifesaver
  • Invite rural children to sponsor and work with calves (other animals as well - 4-H on local farms-animals is property of farmer but cared for by child)
  • Tug of war for teens (age separation?)
  • "Fear Factor" Jell-O, mud etc
  • Air band competition
  • Family dance - split so underage cannot get booze
  • Get youth on the fair board
  • Value ideas, no matter how wild. "If you shoot it down it will never fly"
  • Junior fair board members responsible for and put on one event
  • "Survivor" farm edition
  • Reptiles
  • Events for Junior Ambassador at convention
  • Allow youth to think up their own activities
  • One day/night where one amount allows unlimited access to rides (Conklin yes, others no)
  • Car stereo competition - use decibel reader
  • Remote control car races
  • Stilt race
  • Go-cart race
  • Informational display of cow varieties, sheep, etc (not enough farmers for competition in the area)
  • Friday high school parade competitions between schools (rooms, grades)
  • Hay bale race
  • Sack race
  • Duck tank for teachers
  • Scholarship based on volunteers hours at fair and fair related activities
  • From a young representative let the kids make up their own activities and run them - with an adult overseer
  • Wll games local electronics or software shop sponsoring
  • Pedal pull, bag races, one legged
  • Sumo wrestlers
  • Scavenger hunt

11. Recording and calculating volunteer hours:

  • Have individuals sheets that directors are given at each AGM and then asked to keep track of hours and return when full to secretary
  • Volunteers hours kept in office and directors are asked to fill when in office with volunteer hours
  • Committee chairs keep track of hours and submit them monthly
  • Secretary keeps track of hours
  • At each board meeting secretary ask for estimate of hours from each board member
  • Email hours weekly to fair office

12. Something New that worked for you:

  • Celebrated sports teams at fair and other special events
  • Themes
  • Community harvest (not market)
  • Fireworks
  • Rooster crowing
  • Sunflower seed spitting
  • Place cards about fair at restaurants
  • Idol contests (good MC needed)
  • Demolition Derby (big)
  • Home depot looked after bird kits
  • Send ambassador to school classes
  • 700 pea plants given out to schools , 50 returned by students that had not been part of fair prior to this
  • Bicycle draws

13. Developing a Junior Ambassador Program:

  • Junior ambassadors who come to convention are like a fish out of water
  • If enough junior ambassadors perhaps could a workshop just for them
  • Ages discussed 13 - 15 and 9 - 12
  • Judging tell a story about yourself and interview
  • Must have chaperone with them at all times
  • Find out what fairs have a junior ambassador and encourage them to attend convention
  • Make sure junior ambassadors have specific responsibilities
  • Tiara should be smaller to not take away from Senior
  • Ambassador
  • One fair has junior ambassador promote a specific event at the fair
  • Have separate pageant for junior so their friends can support it
  • Go into schools to research and promote program
  • Promote the program to teachers
  • Have Sr. ambassador visit and promote to schools
  • Suggested instead of ages could use grades as criteria
  • Could create a display board on yourself or a scrapbook
  • Could have meeting prior to judging to prepare maybe hold a carwash to promote program
  • Must be utilized at the fair (promoting the fair and community)
  • Have junior ambassador speak at public schools
  • Have Sr. ambassador speak to future junior ambassadors
  • Incorporate 4-H and other young clubs in order to pick a Junior Ambassador
  • Recruitment look for youth outside of immediate community - bigger number of contestants
  • Speak to schools and explore opportunities for this to work
  • Junior ambassadors encourage them to become senior ambassadors - more comfortable and outgoing.
  • Always have a chaperone with junior ambassadors as young children need guidance, safety and support
  • Less rules and regulations will increase involvement of youth
  • Scholarship program for youth
  • Question to look at - does junior program deter from senior program
  • Encourage fun
  • Ambassador program encourages life skills learning and personal development
  • Form specific committee than devote time to this program as support is so important for it to work and continue
  • Again encourage both males and females
  • Maintain separation from junior and senior program in all areas including what prizes are given out
  • Maybe have junior competition more casual for two reasons;
    1. if fun more likely to take part in senior program,
    2. because we are rural fairs

14. How to encourage youth to join your fair board:

  • Have meetings fun
  • Freedom to organize events
  • Willing to take risks
  • Want to educate agriculture awareness
  • Up dated web site is needed to attract youth
  • Face book meetings
  • Liaison with main meetings
  • Need own budget
  • Problem that can make this difficult; fair timing all headed off to school or summer jobs, voting age, transportation issues to meetings etc
  • Implement junior board meeting using a link to main meetings
  • Support needed from all involved with fair
  • Advertise specific responsibilities for youth
  • Join with other students groups and make links
  • Work with schools and put programs together
  • Have connection with executive and a youth rep
  • Advertise in schools for youth
  • Mentoring program for youth
  • Youth have their own meetings
  • Have youth staff a information booth they could decorate and work on interacting with those coming to the fair
  • Youth day at fair
  • BMX competition
  • Sometimes board members must realize we need fresh ideas and let the youth be in change of an event to change with new ideas
  • Reading your way to the fair involve youth
  • Do not give them grunt jobs make sure you give them important work
  • 4-H involvement very important
  • Entertainment should attract youth
  • Make them feel comfortable
  • Affirm the youth and the work they do for you
  • Don't overwhelm them give them time to learn the ropes of the fair

15. Keeping your prize book current;

  • Make sure direction of committee is clear
  • Separate committee for prize book
  • Advertising as part of book
  • Committee changes need to come from chair of various committee with sign offs before book goes to print
  • Binding?
  • Advertising revenue can pay for book
  • Make it look professional
  • Create and maintain image so you look credible
  • Print separate one for children that can be given out at schools
  • No theme in book so it can used again with very little changes
  • Mail out of prize is important
  • Schools are becoming less committed to assisting some local fairs with getting information out to students will need to look at other options
  • No entries in an class remove it from book and put in a new class
  • Be willing to make changes as they are needed and suggested by others

16. Ontario Fairs - "A snapshot in Time"

  • Past presidents used this time to sell book.

17. OAAS sponsored competitions (cookies, quilts etc):

  • Machine quilt instruction not specific - 48" x 48"
  • Measure perimeter 48"? 192 clarified by attendee - rules ok
  • Posters, prize money should be for local fair and district
  • Quilts not right size should not go to district
  • Bread recipe must accompany for proof of 60%
  • New competition rules should be mailed out to judges as well
  • Double the competition rules pages and label one set to be given to homecraft department
  • Suggestion different competitions might be better eg. Change to fruit cake because of freshness of bread or cookies when they get here
  • "new rules" for machine quilts competition should have been red flagged so fairs would be aware
  • New Rules should be announced at fall and spring meetings so this can go to district meetings
  • District director's needs to keep judges list updated. Making sure judges are qualified to judge. Have they had any updating?

18. Does your fair have a grievance policy for exhibitors?

  • Have the fairs at the table had a policy some did not know
  • Policy should be written in book and then placed in hall
  • Have a specific committee that would look at procedure
  • Make sure that procedure is clear
  • Written grievance within 2 weeks of fair with a $25.00 deposit to the secretary
  • Written grievance to board with 72 hours of fair closing

19. What changes are impacting homecraft at your fair:

  • Long arm quilting making sure that classes are included in fairs
  • Culinary arts
  • Need to make changes yearly so that this will attract new exhibitors
  • Need to be willing to change to attract new ethnic groups
  • Take a chance and bring in new groups with new ideas
  • Change with times
  • Have a entire section on environmental or recycled items in your fair book
  • Continuous demo going on during fair i.e. scrap booking, cooking, clay work etc
  • Cooking for children
  • More additions to include diabetic cooking, low fat, non-gluten etc
  • Quilting 3 categories; long arm, machine, hand
  • Advance list is important and should be out 6 months before fair
  • Create a measuring tape on the back of your book
  • Cost of ingredients continue to increase so prizes need to change