The Cambridge Fall Fair!

School is back, and with it the end of summer vacation for schoolkids. For parents it's a bit of a mixed bag; the end of holidays and summer camps and perhaps somewhat of a return to scheduling normalcy.

The Cambridge Fall Fair has always fit into this sense of having "one last hurrah", the weekend after school starts, to ease us into the autumn stretch. Sort of a defining annual family moment that happens close to home and doesn't involve long car rides, over-priced fast food, and worried glances into the wallet as we walk up to the ticket booth to see what inflation has done to ride tickets.

Having worked closely with the South Waterloo Agricultural Society on marketing the Cambridge Fall Fair for a number of years now, I see some promising trends not reflected by larger events like the C.N.E. which I have to admit I regretted attending this year. By the time we factor in the GO Train, admission, ride bracelets well in excess of $50, interminable ride wait times, and enormous crowds, we realized that our daughter might have got on less than a dozen rides that last on average from 30 seconds to about 3 minutes. Most of those required 30-45 minutes of lower-back killing line-ups.

It didn't take long into the day to realize what a value the local Fall Fair provides in comparison.

First of all Thursday the 8th and Sunday 11th are free admission provided courtesy of a local real estate agent. Secondly, For Friday and Saturday you can get vouchers at any local ScotiaBank™ for $25 including admission and ride-all-day, or $9 admission only. That first option is less than half of what one ride bracelet is at the CNE not even including admission.

Sure, it's a much smaller event but considering many rides are the same with a quarter of the wait times it works out to a lot more fun without any exaggeration.

Secondly, for such a relatively small event it packs some big-time punch with names like David Wilcox, and popular spectacles like the Demolition Derby on both Friday and Saturday. Not bad.

You may miss out on some unique and un-apologetically decadent treats like candy coated insects or deep fried cheesecake but you can still get the standard fair "fare" like cotton candy and those poutine fries we like to walk around the midway with.

And probably the biggest thing I can think of that sets a local Fair well apart from the mega events like the C.N.E. is community. Yes, that word gets a bit over-used but it really does apply to an overall experience in a way that's a bit intangible until you come home and realize how many people you actually know and bump into that, in this increasingly segregated society, happens far less often than those of us who were around perhaps a few decades ago, are used to.

Is this a shameless plug for the Cambridge Fall Fair? Absolutely and unapologetically. As our region grows it's likely inevitable that things will get a bit less personal out there, but with important community events like our Fall Fair that has been re-introducing old friends and acquaintances for over 177 years (!) I think it would be a shame not to.

And with any luck, I'll get to see you there this year as well.

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