The first school fair started in 1909 and in 1912 they became part of Government policy and grants were made available by the Department of Agriculture. After the war in 1945, school fair grants were dropped.

In 1936 one school fair offered a class for “A collection of groundhog tails” mounted on cardboard with a note under each showing date and how it was captured. The count was 7009 tails with the top three individuals having totals of 92, 72 and 63 tails.

The 4-H movement began in Ontario in 1912. The first organizations were known as “Boys and Girls Clubs” or “Junior Farm Clubs” and in 1952 the names were changed to 4-H Clubs.

The Ministry of Agriculture became an independent ministry in 1888 and these various branches and departments were added by 1910.

Agricultural Societies, Farmer’s and Women’s Institutes, Agricultural College, Veterinary College, County Agricultural Representatives, Livestock, Fruit Growers, Colonization Bureau, and Bureau of Trial Industries.

July 20 1910 - The committee appointed to solicit subscriptions for purchasing and fitting up a public park has been quite successful. Nearly $1,000 has been subscribed so far. The park committee is preparing to construct a race track at once. The board intends to hold a fall fair this season. {Strathroy Age Dispatch}

August 1910 - Melbourne Agricultural Society elected Marwood Campbell president, Arthur Carruthers vice-president and Frank McLean secretary-treasurer. The first Melbourne Fair was held Tuesday October 11, 1910.

The following lists the fair year and the president for that year:

1920 - Malcolm McNeil - The fair date was Thursday, October 7, 1920. The directors were chosen equally from Caradoc and Ekfrid, the rural population was 42% and country grants were applied for.

1921 - Hugh H. Fletcher - At the annual meeting held in the World of Woodlanders hall it was reported that there was much gratis work done on the fairgrounds. The field crop competition would be divided between Ekfrid and Caradoc and the crop was white oats. Departmental judges were hired to judge the oats and livestock including horses, sheep and cattle. There was a discussion on building a grandstand and repairing the track.

1922 - James Sutherland - The grandstand organizing committee was formed with the members being James Sutherland, Sparling Clarke, Frank Howe and Thomas Hardy and on February 18, 1922 a motion was made by Thomas Hardy, seconded by Sparling Clarke, to construct a grandstand. The grandstand building committee was Gilbert Hyndman, James Sutherland and Roy McCracken and Thomas Hardy to organize the building work-bees. The field crop competition was banner oats. They purchased the oat seed from H.A. Fletcher with the fairboard paying 50 cents a bushel and the exhibitor paying 50 cents and all prize money would go to the grandstand debt.

1923 - James Sutherland -The fair was held on the first Tuesday in October. The grandstand was completed for fair day and the R.C.R. Band entertained. There were trials of speed and a fair dance. Donations were collected from London, Strathroy, Mt. Brydges, Melbourne, Glencoe, Appin and Delaware.

1924 - David Hardy - Malcolm McGugan was hired as care taker of the fairgrounds – his pay to be the use of the land for pasture and hay. Exhibit tents were established and fair admission was 35 cents for an adult and 25 cents for a car. Ther were wheat and oat competitions.

1925 - Gilbert Hyndman - The fair was held on Wednesday, October 7, 1925. The fair advertising was done by posters and the Walpole Indian Band entertained. The fair dance was a street dance.

1926 - Thomas Hardy - There was a wheat and oat competition for Caradoc and Ekfrid. The entertainment was provided by the Highlanders Band.

1927 - Cristopher McCallum - The annual meetings were now held in the town hall. The Women’s Club made a request to plant trees on the fairgrounds asking the men to pick planting locations. A separate committee was set up to maintain the race track {possibly the Turf Club} Earth was requested to be taken from the fairgrounds for improving the Provincial Highway.

1928 - Jim Gentleman - The fair date was October 9, 1928.

1929 - Malcolm McGugan - On Saturday, March 16, 1929 a joint meeting with Fairboard and Park Board was held to fill the vacancy of Alexander P. McDougald who had passed away and Joe Wellman who had relocated as both men were Park Board trustees. Departmental judges were used to judge livestock and ladies work. The first discussion took place on establishment of a school fair.

1930 - Malcolm McGugan - The rural population at this time was 39% and the fair date was Friday, October 10, 1930.

1931 - Evan Carruthers - The fair date was October 9, 1931, a school parade was organized. Dutton, Lawrence Station and St. Thomas were added to the canvassing list and they collected from Eatons, Simpsons, and Halladays for specials. The fairboard joined the Canadian National Racing Association. Frank McLean signed off as secretary stating in the minutes that he was present at the organizing meeting 21 years ago when there was neither grounds nor track nor building nor money in the treasury.

1932 - D. McColl - They applied for a Middlesex County grant and approached the townships of Caracoc and Ekfrid for grants also. Fair admission was 35 cents per adult and an old timers dance was planned. Gilbert Hyndman died.

1933 - George Marshman

1934 - W.J. Foster

1935 - Tom McDonald

1935 - Charles Alexander - Meetings were held in the Oddfellows Hall.

1937-1940 - The school fair was a big attraction, and the fairs were held in October. The rural population was 38%. The livestock classes were large and the dairy classes were smaller then usual.

1941 - Roy Demmick - A baby show was held. The horses were put into breeding class; Percheron-Belgian, Clydesdale and Shire. The boy’s foal and calf clubs were conducted jointly with Melbourne and Glencoe Societies. Officers of the foal club for 1941 were; president-Colin Johnson, vice-president-Howard McLean, secretary- Blake McGill. Officers of the calf club; president- Howard McLean, vice-president- Glenn Pole, secretary- Leon Eaton.

1942 - Ross McTaggart

1943 - Neil Olde

1944 - Harry Brodie- The beef classes were listed as breeds; shorthorns, hereford, angus and a cross breed class.

1945 - Stanley McRobert

1946 - Neil Johnson - A Middlesex heavy horse improvement association show was held at the fair. Roy Hardy of Melbourne was president and Orville Skinner was vice-president.

1947 - Harry McCracken

1948 - Roy Hardy

1949 - Argyle McGugan

1950 - Jack Fletcher - By 1950 the rural population had dropped to 27%.

1951 - Edwin Carruthers

1952 - Tom Hardy - Argyle McGugan was the secretary of the fair board. There were many tobacco entries in the fair.

1955 - Clare Huston

1956 - George Elliott - The meetings were held in the Legion Hall, and dances were held in the town hall as fund raisers. Admission to the dances was 50 cents. Husking corn was added to the field crop competition.

1957 - Orville Marshman - The fair date was Friday October 10, 1957. There was no heavy horse show this year instead there was a pony show. A new ticket booth was built by Russell Mullins and was situated at the Peter Street entrance to the fairgrouonds.

1958 - Gerald Hardy - On March 27, 1958 Argyle McGugan signed off as secretary and the new secretary was Duncan McTaggart. The fair date was Friday October 11, 1958. For a fund raiser they sold tickets on a deep freezer, floor polisher and frying pan.

1959 - J.D. McLean - There was a soybean competition. A resolution was sent to Toronto to see about having night horse racing in Melbourne. Murray Carruthers sponsored the 4-H calf club. The police were given the authority to keep unauthorized vehicles off of the race track.

1960 - J.D. McLean - The fair date was Saturday October 8, 1960. It was decided the presidents would serve two year terms. Donations were collected at the farm show in London. A cement floor was poured in the crystal palace. The fair board received a grant to build a horse barn.

1961 - Jim McCracken - The fair date was Saturday October 7, 1961, admission was 75 cents-adult and the fair dance admission was 1$.Dairy classes shown by breeds were holstiens, ayrshire, and jersey. There was a horseshoe pitching competition and an abundance of mid way rides. Four bleachers were purchased for the race track spectators and the Turf club held horse races during July and August.

1962 - Jim McCracken - The field crop competition for Caradoc and Ekfrid was corn. The Boy Scouts started to hold their meetings in the crystal palace, the committee was Gerald Hardy and Glen Carruthers.

1963 - Harold Huston - There was a chicken barbecue at the fair, and a heavy horse County show.

1964 - Harold Huston - The schools in Ekfrid and Melbourne joined in to produce school fair prize lists. The fair day was switched to Thanksgiving Day. Ther was a good fair parade.

1965 - Glen Carruthers - The 4-H club returns to the fair.

1966 - Glen Carruthers - Glen Brodie was the school fair organizer. Plans were made for Canada’s celebration. A new fence was installed in front of the grandstand. They sold tickets on a calf for a fund raiser.

1967 - Ron McLean - The County 4-H show was held at Melbourne fair and a new 4-H exhibit hall was built. Them Varmits entertained at the fair.

1968 - Ron McLean - Duncan McTaggart signed off as secretary and the new secretary was Walter McIntyre. The school fair entries were displayed in the school gym. Up until now the entries had been in a huge tent erected next to the school. The gate admission had now reached $1. As a fund raiser Archie Murray donated a boar hog for a dutch auction. Various community organizations met to discuss the cost of paving the roadway from the front of the Legion Hall to the horse barns. The total cost was $1800 and the fair board put $300 towards it.

1969 - Howard McLean - The 4-H swine show started this year at the fair. The Legion was granted permission to build a tennis court.

1970 - Howard McLean - The rural population was now 18%. The fair board started to sponsor the 4-H clubs. In July the fair board held a rodeo.

1971 - Don Stewart - The 4-H horse club started.

1972 - Don Stewart - The fair changed to a two day fair - Friday night October 6 and Saturday October 7. New metal bleachers were made and set in cement footings. Bernie Smith ran Crown and Anchor for the fair board.

1973 - Vern Hathaway - The Hell Drivers entertained on Friday night.

1974 - Vern Hathaway - The kitchen was built on the Exhibit Hall and they acquired a liquor license for monthly dances. Ken McFadden was hired to be the hall manager. A New Year’s Eve dance was held with the fair board and the Legion.

1975 - Alex Peter - The fair was now held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The attraction on Sunday was the tractor pull.

1976 - Alex Peter

1977 - Ron McLean - The 4-H livestock barn was built in the infield of the race track. There was a tractor pull at the fair.

1978 - Ron McLean - The fair date changed to Labour Day weekend September 1,2,3.

1979 - Ross Miller - The new secretary was Alice McTaggart. The old grandstand was torn down. There was a horse pull on Sunday.

1980 - Ross Miller - The rural population was now at a low 18%. A horse pull was held on Sunday and a soybean competition for Caradoc and Ekfrid.

1981 - Bob Lambert - Under the Federal Livestock Classification grants Melbourne was a “B” class fair. The entertainment at the fair were the Police Golden Helmet Motorcycles.

1982 - Bob Lambert - There was a silage corn and grain corn competition.

1983 - Larry Graham - For entertainment there was hog wrestling and a demolition derby. On Sunday they had a horse pull and log sawing.

1984 - Larry Graham - Viola McLean became secretary. The slow pitch tournaments started on Sundays and there was a beer tent at the ball diamond. The grand opening for the addition on the exhibit hall was held June 15, 1984.

1985 - Rick McCracken

1986 - Rick McCracken - Bingo became the major fund raiser.

1987 - Don Ryan

1988 - John Minnema

1989 - John Minnema - Portable bleachers were built for spectators. Six acres were purchased from Argyle McGugan to be used as fair parking.

1990 - Alexander Davenport - The rural population was 16%

1991 - Alexander Davenport - Sheep gates were built and the fence along the race track was replaced. Permission was granted to the Legion to expand their building.

1992-1993- Graham McLean - This was the last year a Fair Queen competition was held. The New Year’s eve dance was cancelled due to poor attendance.

1994-1995- Paul Ratcliffe - Bingos were discontinued due to the closing of the Banqueteer. The pond beside the horse barns was filled in.

1996-1997 - Sandy Smith - The hot meal served at noon was moved to the Legion Hall, and baking exhibits were shown in the main hall. The Lions Club started running bingo in the main hall on the Sunday of fair week-end. The property lines were adjusted with Thames Valley School Board and a new fence was installed. The Campbell drain was upgraded.

1998 - Murray McLean - Friday night featured a tractor pull and the demolition Derby was moved to Sunday.

1999 - Murray McLean - The office of Secretary-Treasurer was divided with Viola McLean as secretary and Melinda Hardy as treasurer.

2000-2001 - Patrick Zavitz- The driveway was paved. They painted the roof on the main hall as well as the livestock building, and the Scout Hall. New lights were installed at the ball diamond from the Trillium Grant.

2002 - Joe Hardy - The main hall was remodeled and the kitchen renovated with the Trillium Grant. Carla Pierce is fairboard secretary and Melinda Hardy is treasurer.

This information was researched and compiled by Alexander Davenport, he also wrote this in his report; There has been a tendency within the village and surrounding area of the same families living here from one generation to the next. There has always been a strong interest in young people’s programs, particularly school fair activities, and 4-H programs. The fact is that Ekfrid Township’s livelihood has been based solely on agriculture, particularly livestock. Caradoc would provide grains, tobacco, vegetables and fruits, particularly apples.

Perhaps to this day the biggest factor of Melbourne Fair’s success were the dreams and goals layed out by those first trustees who organized and started that first fair. Within all of their wisdom, they recognized the fact that the village of Melbourne was located on the boundary line of Ekfrid and Caradoc Townships. Where as knowing this it was always to be a combined effort of the residents of Melbourne, Ekfrid, and Caradoc to share in preserving something that had touched us all, Melbourne Fair.

History

President

Sandy Smith

 Vice President

Fred McRobert

 Second Vice

Scott Lambert

Secretary

Linda Dietz

Treasurer

Fran Jones

Building Manager

​Laurie Elliott

Present

2015 Executives

Melbourne Agricultural Society

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