Brussels Fall Fair welcomes thousands at IPM - Sept. 28, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
An audacious plan for this year’s Brussels Fall Fair seems to have paid off according to Brussels Agricultural Society President Matt Cardiff.
The Brussels Fall Fair was a success at the International Plowing Match (IPM) held in Walton and Cardiff says he’s “100 per cent sure” the society members made the right decision for this year’s fair.
Cardiff was at the IPM every day manning the fair’s tent and said he didn’t hear a single complaint.
While the fair’s initial plan to have a ferris wheel on site was thwarted when the ferris wheel arrived at the grounds damaged, all of the tent’s remaining attractions that traditional fair-goers have come to know and love, including a straw bale maze, a full musical stage and a tent full of fall fair exhibits, were well received by tens of thousands of IPM visitors.
And while IPM guests did their part and visited the fall fair, especially in the mornings, Cardiff said, the other end of the fall fair also paid off at the IPM. Cardiff estimates that most categories saw an increase in submissions, some as high as double the number of the entries.
The readiness of the Brussels Agricultural Society was tested almost immediately with the closure of Tented City on Wednesday, Sept. 20.
That was the day that the fair was scheduled to host its 4-H beef and sheep club shows at the CKNX Events Centre, but with Tented City closed, the show had to return to its traditional home at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre.
Cardiff said that the last-minute shift forced some members to have to think on their feet and make split-second decisions to reschedule, but competitors were notified and the grounds were prepared and they had a great show in Brussels on Wednesday, he said.
While the 4-H members were busy in the show ring in Brussels on Wednesday, many members of the society were busy in Walton helping with the grounds and making their tent habitable after the downpour the day before which forced the IPM grounds into closure.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday were all banner days for the Brussels Fall Fair, which saw thousands of attendants come through its gates every day.
Cardiff says that while not everyone who went to the IPM visited the Brussels Fall Fair tent, no doubt many of those at the IPM stopped into the fair for a visit. Whether it was the music on the tent’s stage or the straw bale maze, there was plenty to attract patrons.
There was also plenty of traffic around Society Secretary Brian Schlosser’s barn quilt, called Norah’s Pinwheel. Schlosser displayed the barn quilt, asking all those who passed it to sign it before he resealed it and put it up on his barn once again.
By the end of the day of Saturday, thousands had signed the barn quilt.
And while Cardiff feels that both the Brussels Agricultural Society and the IPM benefitted from the relationship, he thinks that the one-time-only arrangement had an even deeper impact.
“I think this was a good representation of something that’s very important to Huron County life,” Cardiff said. “I think it was a good thing to have that representation at the match site.”
And while hosting an authentic fall fair on the site was something new for the IPM, Cardiff also felt that the change was good for the society as well.
“I think it was good for the Brussels Fall Fair to try something new as well,” Cardiff said.
While Cardiff has his hands full over the course of the week, he wasn’t alone in having to travel to Brussels on Friday as part of the Cardiff’s Catering crew that fed nearly 700 people at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre for the IPM’s Celebration of Excellence gala. Cardiff’s parents, his grandmother and many other members of the Brussels Agricultural Society were all part of the crew that made the dinner a night to remember for all in attendance.