Time to meet at fair again

At 113 years of age, the Rainy River Valley Agricultural Society’s annual fall fair in Emo gets underway tomorrow with the midway cranking up the sound during the day.
Then on Friday and Saturday nights, the roar of stock cars racing around the track will be heard for miles in all directions.
The Emo Fair has been a district-wide attraction since the original one in 1900 and today continues to showcase the best in local agriculture. While the fair often is seen for its carnival rides and stock car racing, it really is a story of the development and changes that have taken place across Rainy River District.
The fair continues to be the story of the people of the district. As new technologies in wood harvesting came along, they were demonstrated there. As farming changed, and the size of farms and herds grew, new and bigger equipment made its appearance.
The farming community continues to change. New immigrants have made their way to the district, bringing new ideas for crops and animal husbandry. They have become integral to the life of the district.
But it has not been just an agricultural fair. It has been much more. My mother would spend what seemed like a whole afternoon in the exhibition building examining the needlework on quilts or the detail of doilies and tablecloths crocheted or tatted that were on display.
My brother, Don, and I would scamper around and check out the pieces of pie and cake on display. Since they were all behind glass, we quickly tired and made our way out of the building.
The automobile, tractor, and implement dealers from across the district all had their newest products on the grounds—and whether or not it was intended, they became the children’s climbing gym.
Sitting high above the ground on the seat of a green John Deere tractor is one of my fondest memories.
The smells of the fair are many. The hamburgers, fried onions, and fresh corn sold at the 4-H booth still haunt me. And no one made a better milkshake than those produced at the fair.
Fresh hot popcorn and spun pink cotton candy were great treats by the midway.
The fair, for all of its years, is still the meeting ground for district people. It is said that if you sit in front of the exhibition building, and don’t leave until late in the evening on Friday or Saturday, you will meet everyone in the district.
It is a tradition that continues to this day.
My cousins, Blair and Doug Anderson, every year as youths raised either a 4-H heifer or steer to be shown at the fair. Our visit to the fair coincided with their showing of their prized animals in the ring.
They had worked tirelessly halter training their animals and brushing their coats until they shone in the sunlight.
Today, the annual 4-H steer auction takes place on Saturday afternoon following the judging of the animals in the morning. It is both exciting and heart-wrenching for those young people to see their animals being sold at auction.
Still, many a student covered a fair bit of post-secondary tuition from raising their steer for sale at the fair.
Don’t miss out. It’s time to meet at the fair again!

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