When the Fall Fair arrives in Agassiz, it’s a little bit like magic.
In the week leading up to the Agassiz Fall Fair and Corn Festival, the empty fairgrounds slowly turn into a maze of rides and carnival fun. Inside the Agricultural Hall, clothing, baked goods, floral arrangements, quilts, vegetables and fruits, all made or grown by local residents, are set up and judged.
Then, on the afternoon of the second Friday after the September long weekend, the Fall Fair begins.
“There’s something magical about the fair,” Victoria Brookes, president of the Agassiz Agricultural and Horticultural Association said.
It’s been this way for 116 years, when the Agassiz Fall Fair first started.
The fair first began back in 1901, and slowly expanded from its location at the Good Templar’s Hall to its current spot on the Agassiz Fairgrounds.
Over the course of its history, the fair has only been cancelled three times: twice because of the Second World War, and once because of the 1948 flood.
In that year, the Agassiz Agricultural and Horticultural Association held a “picnic and field day” at the Dominion Experimental Farm (now the Agassiz Research Centre).
The following year was the start of a new tradition in Agassiz: the Corn Festival.
Originally started to celebrate the canning and sweet corn being grown in the region, the Corn Festival saw the introduction of the Corn King — an honour for local corn growers that continues to this day.
A tradition that no longer continues: in the week before the Corn Festival, members of the board of trade would be required to smoke from corn cob pipes only, and would be fined one dollar if they were caught smoking anything else.
For years, the Fall Fair and the Corn Festival existed separately, until falling volunteer numbers inspired the Corn Festival to join with the Fall Fair.
In the years since then, the Fall Fair and the Corn Festival have grown old together, although not without some changes.
“We always try to have something new, because we don’t want people to say ‘Oh I’ve been to the fair last year,’” Brookes said. “We want something old, and something new.”
Over the years, that “something new” has included the introduction of the Laughing Loggers show, as well the blueberry pie eating contest, which was so popular in 2018 that they ran out of pies for the adult competition.
But always, the most popular events have been the tried and true: the 4H competitions, the antique tractor pull, the corn husking competition and the crowning of the Corn King or Queen.