A brief history of the Beeton Fall Fair
With the assistance of local author and historian, Bert Platt, a brief history of the Beeton Fair is offered up to explain how it all started. This year is the 161st annual Beeton Fall Fair hosted by the Beeton & District Agricultural Society on its fair grounds at the centre of Beeton.
A lot has changed and developed with the Fair since 1845 with the rst farmers markets, crop sales and festivals, sometimes held on a monthly basis depending on the season, being held in Keenansville and then called the Tecumseth-Cardwell Exhibition. That is right, the Beeton fair was rst held in Keenansville. At the time Keenansville was the town in South Cardwell (as it was known then) and area that was an up and coming community and a bit larger than most of the surrounding communities. People were moving into the Cardwell area (which contained present day Tecumseth and Adjala) and they wanted to get together, celebrate the seasons and sell their produce. Keenansville was a going concern with big plans. Things evolved and more people moved in and small towns sprang up or grew bigger and they wanted to get in on the act as these farmers markets and festivals brought commerce, money and people into the area.
For many years the Fair rotated from one village to the other hamlet from one year to the next. It was held over the years in Athlone, Keenansville, Loretto, Tottenham, Beeton and Thompsonville.
This all changed with the coming of the railroad in the 1880’s. If the railroad came through your village then it grew and if it didn’t, well it just withered. Athlone, Keenansville, Loretto and Thompsonville stopped growing and their populations declined. On the other hand Beeton and Tottenham both grew. Both had the railroad and the citizens of each wanted the fair to be permanently located in their town. At the time the Fair’s organization was called the Tecumseth Agricultural Society and Beeton and Tottenham were rivals in their pursuit of the Fair. Beeton prevailed and took over the fair, possibly through the purchase of a permanent Fair site.
Through the 1880’s the Fair was held on vacant land East of Centre St, North of Main St, behind the present day United Church, (which at that time was a Methodist Church). The grounds extended all the way East across Patterson St, (which was then not much more than a cattle track called Stove Pipe Rd.); to the land that now holds the Beeton Central Elementary School. There was a race track for harness racing on the school lands that became one of the best in the area, a driving shed and animal sheds to hold animals to be exhibited, judged and perhaps sold. The grounds were a bit swampy and the Society began looking for a new Fair Grounds.
In January 1898 the Society offered E.A. Calhoun $500.00 for the present Fair Grounds. At the time the Fair grounds became the Village Common. The deal was done and Mrs. Catherine E. Kerr took the mortgage on April 13, 1998, payable at $100.00 a year. The land was leveled and fenced and used to pasture animals in the town with the agreement that all cattle, pigs, sheep etc. would be removed one week before Fair time and could be returned once the Fair was over.
The Society began erecting a building in which was completed in time for the 1898 Fair. The building is still there and still used during the fair and rented out the rest of the year for meetings and parties. The total cost of construction was $969.00 for the 40’ X 70’ brick building which will be 115 years old during this year’s fair.
At the time the Fair purchased its land, Henry and Kate Aitken bought 26 acres bordering on the West. For a while the race track was on the Aitken’s land but as they wanted to plant an apple orchard and raise poultry the Society then moved the track onto its grounds. The Aitken’s then convinced the Fair board to plant the pines which surround three sides of the park
in order to provide a buffer between the fair grounds and their property. These are the same trees which surround the park today.
Encouraged by D.A. Jones, the society members planted several maples and shrubs about the land in an effort to beautify the park. Some of the trees are still with us.
In 1907 the Fair changed its name from the Tecumseth Agricultural Society to the Beeton Agricultural Society, which evolved to the present day Beeton & District Agricultural Society to include the surrounding township, villages and hamlets.
In 1925 the Society was asked by the Town of Beeton to sell the portion of its lands bordering on Prospect St and extending 300’ North. This is our present day park with children’s play area, tennis courts and the Lawn Bowling Club.
Today the Fair grounds and the park look much different than they did then. The maple trees planted then are now large and majestic. The pines are all tall, stately and surround the Fair grounds on three sides to provide a light and sound barrier to the houses that have been built around it. An outbuilding and drive shed have been built along with tethering posts for animals. There are two ball diamonds used throughout the season and the race track has long been in disuse and is growing over. The town installed the tennis courts and the lawn bowling court and building was put up. The Lions built a washroom with concession booth and no more horses or cattle graze on the grass of the eld except on Fair days.