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2019 Convention

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

See you Feb. 14-16, 2019

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

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Release: The comments expressed below are not the opinion of the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies but rather are comments expressed by delegates during the round table sessions held at the Convention.

Topic 1: Parking and Security

  • Use free on-grounds parking as a drawing card for your fair
  • Determine what space can be used for parking in your community ahead of time and promote those areas. Determine how you are going to move people to and from the fair grounds.
  • Understand the liabilities of using non-owned properties and fair owned properties for fair parking
  • Police costs continue to rise; use private companies where possible
  • Ensure you have adequate security when operating a beer tent

Topic 2: Redesigning the Prize Book

  • Some Societies contract out the design as a business project where both the company completing the work and the society benefit financially
  • Print a prize book which can be used for multiple years to reduce printing costs; a special flyer features special classes related to the annual theme
  • Competitions are held to design the cover page
  • Use prize winning photos from photography classes on the cover
  • Many societies are posting the prize list to the website instead of using paper
  • Committees should complete reservations; this should not be the job of the Secretary
  • Entry form is the centrefold which can be removed
  • Use Office Publisher instead of Office Word; improved applications
  • Remember to use a font size which can be easily read
  • Include photos from previous years instead of clip art
  • Make a separate book for junior entries
  • Promote theme throughout the book

Topic 3: How to Make the Public More Aware of the OAAS

  • Perhaps we should be asking ourselves if we should be making our membership more aware of the OAAS as they represent us to the public
  • Important that public/exhibitors know that the OAAS prepares judging standards and trains judges
  • Include OAAS logo on printed materials prepared by Fairs
  • Invite District Directors/ OAAS Executive to Fair openings, annual meetings and other special events
  • Perhaps the OAAS could prepare pamphlets about itself with space for Fairs to add their own promotional information
  • Fairs should ensure that current promotional material from OAAS is displayed where public can see it and get it
  • OAAS Directors should make their presence known (in a positive way) when visiting fairs and attending special events.
  • Include info about the OAAS activities in press reports issued by fair
  • Include link to OAAS website on Fair website
  • Does the Public need to be aware? If Yes then why?
  • Knowing that the OAAS prepares judging standards and oversees the training of judges gives reassurance to the public and to exhibitors that high standards are being maintained
  • If yes, then how can this be accomplished?
  • Perhaps materials could be made available outlining the work of the OAAS

Topic 4: Mentoring New Volunteers

  • Encourage members; not criticize
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help
  • Never assume knowledge; match their skills and likes
  • Ensure students completing their community service hours are enjoying themselves
  • Post jobs
  • Create a master list of volunteers and jobs
  • Ensure tasks for youth are specific and have a purpose
  • Include new volunteers in the planning stages of the event; not just as workers
  • Take volunteers to neighbouring fairs to see how other fairs operate and to gather new ideas
  • Encourage 4-H programs and Ambassador programs
  • Consider having co-chairpersons; job shadow
  • Sponsor a volunteer night at which the roles are explained to new volunteers
  • Ensure that the volunteers are thanked for their efforts
  • Honorariums could be given to community groups like scouts, soccer teams, etc.
  • Have a volunteer appreciation luncheon

Topic 5: How to Encourage Urban Visitors to Exhibit at the Fair

  • Distribute prize books at the Welcome Wagon
  • Hand books out at sidewalk sales
  • Advertise for free in the "Coming Events" section of the newspapers
  • Take colouring contests into the schools
  • Host a New Exhibitor's Information Day
  • Distribute prize books at Feed Stores and Craft Stores
  • Sponsor food/health related classes promoting foods using diabetic ,celiac and lactose free diets
  • Work with community interests such as ceramics, quilting, scrapbooking, pottery and wine producing
  • Offer good prize money and advertise in urban papers
  • Offer admission discounts to target groups (military families)
  • Promote the prize book to urban users
  • Encourage community college students to exhibit
  • Take the suggestions people give you to change your program!
  • Pass out a survey at the fair to find out who attends and who exhibits. If they don't find out why not!
  • Invite quilters guides to participate
  • Have a School Spirit Award: $250 for the school with the most participation
  • Build connections with the local high schools; have students work on the grounds
  • Have parents of youth directors act as liaisons to the school

Topic 6: Farmer's Markets at Your Fair

  • Need to find grants to start the markets
  • Partnerships are needed between the Fairs and the Market Association
  • Make connections with Tourism Office and OMAFRA
  • Vendors should be part of the planning
  • Make sure vendors have insurance
  • Use local produce whenever possible; 100 mile market
  • Speak with your local "Farm Gate" Producers
  • Great new experience for the fair goer
  • Fair admission should include market admission
  • Don't schedule market for the entire day
  • Friday Schedule: 1p.m.-7p.m. / Saturday 8a.m.-1p.m.
  • Market vendors want to arrive early and leave at noon
  • Advertise well to encourage people to come
  • Need to work with vendors; ensure that they make a commitment
  • Provide a map showing the locations of the vendors
  • Have demos
  • Contact Health Unit to determine what extra requirements may be needed
  • Commercial inspections may be needed
  • Use coupons / draws to bring people back
  • Need to have a market manager; point person
  • People want more than just produce
  • Fees vary from $20 per spot to $200 per season depending on length of season
  • Have green bins available
  • Sell individual pieces of fruit (50 cent apples)
  • Vendors must give out samples; people looking for healthy snacks
  • Decorate the area like a Country General Store/aprons/wooden barrels
  • Could have pie auction or chili cook off at the market
  • Contact Norfolk County Fair for suggestions

Topic 7: How to Remove Seasoned Directors / Judges with Dignity

  • Who is young and who is old?
  • Younger people do not want to deal with older directors
  • Judges have not kept up with their training and don't want to leave
  • Older directors make the fair their life
  • Give older directors a special project to work on so that they will not feel left out
  • Perhaps next year, this session could be entitled  "How to Gracefully Decommission Problem Directors and/or Judges"
  • No new bodies so no new ideas are presented resulting in no change of thought and inhibits the fair from expanding and growing
  • Length of term of office should not be forever; have a 3 year term
  • Use a nominating committee to select members
  • Attach a new member to an experienced director and ask them to train the new person
  • Develop a criteria for directors to follow
  • Don't invite problem judges back to your fair; inform your District
  • Judge's criteria is too stringent; too long of a time commitment to learn how to judge
  • There is no incentive for young people to become a judge
  • Have more judging schools; drop the two year shadow judging
  • Society is changing faster than fairs can react to this new mantra. With the help of agencies and government, fairs will change but it will take time, new members and new ideas.

Topic 8: How Do You Use Round Table Information?

  • Compare results to your home fair. Discuss at Committee meetings. Don't be afraid of change.
  • New ideas are hard to implement
  • Post results to the website so that everyone can review them
  • Distribute results at the District meetings

Topic 9: Understanding Entertainment Contracts

  • Ensure that all performers have clearance or are responsible for obtaining clearance for music rights
  • Clarify expectations
  • Do not give in to unreasonable demands; e.g., smarties, power demands, stage demands
  • Have different people read the contract in advance. Different people see different things.
  • Ensure performance expectations are clear: 1 x 90 minute show vs. 2 x 45 minute shows
  • Determine when payment will be made
  • Clearly define expectations of weather-rain or shine performance or is a covered stage needed?
  • Work with the midway; be friendly
  • Rotate entertainers; don't use the same one two years in a row
  • Ensure the budget is followed
  • Review safety expectations for acts
  • Partner with neighbouring fairs on the same date to share entertainers to reduce costs
  • Watch for riders that include extra passes, food, liquor, rooms and special requirements
  • Make sure person signing contract has the Board's approval

Topic 10: Improving Morale and Increasing Enthusiasm

  • Look for upbeat and enthusiastic directors
  • Recognize volunteers at a dinner, at a Bd mtg, at the fair or send a card. Saying thanks means so much!
  • Check on volunteers at the fair to ensure they are all right
  • Keep volunteers posted throughout the year with emails
  • Start meetings on time and keep them short.
  • Introduce new members properly at a function
  • New members don't like long meetings. Have ice breakers at the meetings
  • Take new members to the convention
  • OAAS needs to do more advertising of how they can help the fairs
  • Share volunteers with other groups-"You help with our event and we will help at yours"
  • Have motivational speakers
  • Don't focus on small issues
  • Demonstrate calmness; don't get into a panic
  • We are volunteers-ENJOY IT!
  • Demonstrate caring for each other
  • Be sure to feed your volunteers at an event
  • Fellowship is number one!
  • Talk up positives
  • Partner low skilled or low morale people with high spirited ones to help change their attitude
  • Make fun out of the problems such as "When is it going to rain?"
  • Recognize your volunteers during national volunteer week
  • Submit volunteer names for the provincial pin / certificate to recognize milestones!
  • Embrace your new volunteers. They will breath higher morale into your fair if you do it right!
  • Praise committees; give people jobs that they like!
  • Morale and Enthusiasm comes from the top down
  • Executive should meet prior to Board meetings to ensure that all are organized

Topic 11: No results available
Topic 12: Admission Prices-how to decide / implications of HST

  • Gross income of $30,000 must take HST off
  • Sell season gate passes
  • All contracts should show the HST
  • Are membership fees taxable?
  • Are parking fees taxable?
  • Auditors are not clear as to what is taxable and what is not!
  • Daily rates vary from $5/day to $10/day with discounts for seniors
  • Weekend rates vary from $20 to $30
  • Some fairs collect non-perishable food items at the gate for the local food bank
  • Some fairs have a twoonie night
  • Admissions are two staged: daytime price and then extra price for evening entertainment
  • OAAS should lobby the government on behalf of the Agricultural Societies to be exempt from the tax-even if it is for a portion!

Topic 13: Effective Marketing Tools on a Limited Budget

  • Use twitter, Facebook and websites
  • Contact local High School to have a website designed
  • Insert a newsletter into the municipal tax bill / newsletter
  • Put floats in parades in other towns
  • Promote the fair through the Chamber of Commerce
  • Use press releases
  • Include photos with the press releases
  • Send letters to the Editor
  • Networking at business luncheons
  • Business cards for directors / chairpersons
  • Direct target mailings
  • Bulk mailing through Canada Post
  • Put fliers on the cars at the mall
  • Send pamphlets to stores, Doctor's Offices and Libraries
  • Have a contest to design the prize book cover
  • Restaurant place mats
  • Invite TV to broadcast from the fair
  • Billboards and road signs
  • Signs on hay wagons
  • Decorated bales of hay along the road promoting the fair
  • Have a tent at other community events
  • Arena signage so people are reminded about your event year round
  • Store front window decorations
  • Have a Marketable theme!

Topic 14: Starting a Website

  • It is best to have one person responsible for the website
  • Security is foremost. Post as a PDF
  • Determine in advance what information is to be posted
  • Should have a Director involved in updating the site in case students become unavailable. Students could design a website as a class project or as part of their 40 hours community service
  • Some are thinking about adding VISA to the website for prepaying tickets
  • Make sure the ad space or logos are being properly charged to the sponsor
  • Use pay per click for managing online ads
  • Use a Twitter campaign to promote prizes on the grounds if you can find the person doing the tweets, according to the clues. Use vendors to sponsor the prize. Midway provider sponsored free ride tickets
  • Put photos online after the fair
  • Fair web traffic dies down after the fair
  • Job posting on the website
  • There is grant money for web development
  • Put your www address on all off-line advertising
  • Have a page for your directors/members to access agendas and minutes. A discussion board would be a bonus
  • Link fair website to the District site and to other fairs
  • Ensure there is a counter for the number of visitors. Is it being used?
  • Use Twitter and Facebook pages to attract attention to the official site
  • Registration forms should be posted to the site
  • OMAFRA, OAFE and TEMPP may have grants available to assist with this project
  • Sponsorships should be listed on website
  • Ensure email addresses of fair staff are listed on the site with links

Topic 15: How to Encourage New Exhibitors

  • New classes encourage new exhibitors and diversity
  • Hold workshops on how to exhibit
  • Redesign the layout of the prize list and the display area so it is not the same old stuff year after year
  • Ask teachers how to reach their students and what students are interested in
  • Have Fair Ambassador visit the schools encouraging participation
  • Organize media days for the press to promote the fair in advance: Learn how to participate
  • Track the number of entries-if the class is stagnant, dump it!
  • Use a lot of signage to recognize sponsors of classes
  • Involve parks and recreation summer programs for kids
  • Listen to your new exhibitors! New ideas are important.
  • Have prizes for new exhibitors
  • Prepare an advanced list
  • Promote classes at hooking clubs, sewing circles and guitar classes
  • Prepare a special booklet for distribution to students that includes just kid's classes and events
  • Promote the OAAS Judging Standards Booklet
  • Ask craft stores what the current trends are
  • Mail out prize list to home school families
  • Keep classes open-too many restrictions
  • Increase the prize money to make it worthwhile
  • Improve the display area. People are not going to enter if they can't see their item
  • Blow your own horn!

Topic 16: Keep Going Green

  • Recycle bottles and cans at the fair
  • Encourage groups to help with the recycling efforts
  • Municipalities may loan extra blue boxes
  • Make vendors take away their own garbage
  • School environmental classes may help with programs
  • Remove the manure within 12 hours
  • Investigate grants through Evergreen.ca
  • Arrange for help in sorting garbage
  • Advertise sponsorship of boxes and recycling program
  • Identify areas on grounds maps where recycling is available

Topic 17: No results available
Topic 18: Becoming a Judge-how to survive the process

  • Why is the OAAS making it so difficult to become a judge? Two schools and three apprenticeships…..too many judges do not want to mentor apprentices. They refuse. It should be mandatory to do that.
  • Is there a protocol to become a grain, seed or vegetable judge?

Topic 19: How to Improve Displays

  • Tiered stands for some exhibits
  • Need places to hang quilts and afghans. Use appropriate rods
  • Use sheets of Styrofoam to provide vertical displays
  • Make sure first prize winners are displayed above the others
  • Create a display at the entrance of the area. Should be welcoming!
  • Put winning photo displays in frames
  • Decorate the display area with materials related to the theme
  • Rona-Bird Houses, Home Depot-School Bus Pencil Holders
  • Arts and Crafts-limit space for displays
  • Hats and Mittens-with a wooden base, place a hanger in the wood allowing for upper display area
  • Baking-risers
  • Use pegboard with hooks
  • Store unused materials under stands
  • Use old materials for displays: e.g.-old fridge and table could be setting for farm scene Kodak moment. A mural of a kitchen should be used on the wall behind.

Topic 20: What are You Doing to Empower Junior Directors?

  • Must have Junior Director program to ensure survival
  • Junior Director workshops are needed
  • Senior directors must realize that the youth are the future of our fairs
  • Old Directors = Old Ideas
  • We need to listen to our Youth!
  • They need to have their own structure
  • Let them try new ideas and we need to support them so they will succeed
  • Mentoring should be part of the program
  • Connections should be made with the schools
  • Use the Volunteer Program as a starting point
  • Award scholarships at the schools to show faith in our future
  • Insights: Give them goals
  • Give them activities
  • Ask for their opinion
  • Let Junior Directors research new activities at other fairs (books/website)
  • Let them run more stuff
  • Let Juniors attend the meetings before and after the fair
  • Link 4-H and Jr Farmer clubs to the fair board
  • Keep Ambassador Runner Up Contestants involved at the fair

Topic: Homecraft Session-Setting up Displays

  • Blocks of wood, drill hole & put hanger in hole, change shape to suit article
  • Pop bottle or water bottle, fill it for weight put socks or mittens on bottle or baby booties
  • Fishing line clothes line
  • Use chairs on tables to drape afghans or quilts etc.
  • Use movable room dividers
  • Turn up corner to show back of quilt
  • Digital photo display for all photo entries, 1st, 2nd, 3rd displayed
  • Chicken wire, use clothes pins
  • Baby crib side rails on their side & display towels, hang baby outfits
  • Bales of straw
  • Shoe boxes wrapped in plastic
  • Portable drying rack for clothes
  • Fabric table covers instead of plastic covers
  • Use saw horses & sheets of plywood to make tables, cover with fabric
  • Plate stand or small easels to hold scrapbooking
  • Dollar store has lots of things for extra decorating
  • Fabric stores may donate skirting fabric
  • Corkboard, for pictures
  • Baskets, display dolls, stuffed animals
  • Bleachers for plants & flowers
  • Baking, have display of old plates, old knife, antique tea pots
  • Use ladder with boards to display breads
  • Use boxes & cover to set displays on giving a more 3-D appearance
  • Use canning fabric or wallpaper for shelving
  • Invite local flower shops to come & decorate your entrance into the Homecraft area

Topic: Homecraft Session- Homecraft of the Future

  • If there is one president at fair, will there be "Homecraft"?
  • Homecraft will disappear if it becomes stagnant
  • Have to keep current with new ideas
  • Add exhibits that "young" will do - bread kneaded by machine or dough hook, quilts machine quilted on any and all machines, purchased shirt decorated
  • New ideas e.g. Painting on maple leaf
  • Make junior fair larger-they are the future for Homecraft
  • Get high school students involved- crops, animals and volunteer hours
  • Junior directors will encourage others in high school
  • President shouldn't do everything-invite others to participate
  • Have demonstrations at fair-pie crust, quilting, tying quilts, kid's cooking clubs
  • Digital photography, enhanced photography, scrapbooking
  • More and better displays- not just quilts
  • "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got"
  • Classes for current knitting and crafts e.g. lace shawl
  • Get Mary Maxim catalogue for ideas
  • Visit local knitting shop
  • Listen to exhibitor's suggestions
  • Make categories generic  e.g. "shirt", not man's shirt or ladies blouse
  • Leave classes in book at least 2 years
  • Multiculturalism- get kids involved, have displays of their special holidays, origami, advertise in their language in their newspapers
  • Classes for impaired or special needs if you have a school in your community-go to school to plan classes, items are shown and judged but not in fair book, like "school work " classes at the fair, bring kids to fair to see their crafts displayed, if adults, usually not judged.
  • Emphasize family dinners, eating healthy, homemade from scratch
  • "Mommy and Me"- submit photo and baking item
  • "Twice the Fun"- enter 2 pies made by 2 family members-these are judged, refrigerated and then auctioned that day-whoever purchases, signs a waiver!
  • Milk bag crocheted blankets, purses, etc.
  • Motivate new people to join-encourage them to exhibit first, then they may join
  • Those who help on fair day only-how do you get them to do more?
  • New ideas- wine classes -red and white from kits as well as red and white from scratch-they have to be opened in a private place away from the public----you can't display open wine, only empty bottles

Topic: Early Bird Session-Paid Security vs. Volunteers

  • Volunteers: People know the gate volunteers and try to take advantage of them
  • Service Clubs from the area can work the gates for a donation
  • Security costs will drive up the gate rates
  • OPP are very expensive
  • Make sure that the paid staff are clear of their responsibilities

Topic: Early Bird Session-Unique Entertainment Ideas

  • Open mike entertainment-play or sing
  • Touch a truck or photo in a truck-fire truck, ambulance, tractor, combine, race car
  • Video dance
  • Trade show / home show
  • Local talent search
  • Garden show

Topic: Early Bird Session-Fund Raising Ideas

  • Mystery Dinner Theatre
  • Partner with Zellers or Walmart to sell hotdogs
  • Selling signage space at the fair
  • Car bingo
  • Pie Auction
  • Men's Baking Contest
  • Cow Chip Bingo
  • Catering during the shoulder seasons
  • Tractor Pulls
  • Silent Auction
  • Cake Walk
  • Work gates at other fairs for a donation
  • Jamboree of local talent with a meal
  • Trivia Night
  • Ladies Night
  • Quilt Raffle
  • Haunted House at Halloween
  • Rodeo
  • Chicken Barbeque
  • Elvis Night
  • Earth Day-using local foods
  • Grants if you can find them!