Judge a giant squash, dance a breathless jig, get messy chowing through ribs, get messier plowing through mud, ride a glowing ferris wheel, marvel at a parade of tractors lit up like Christmas trees, wander from one free concert to another in the sweet, Headwaters air. Where Ontario gets real.
There are some simple truths that you can only learn by experiencing them yourself at a genuine, same-as-it-ever-was country event. Truths like: a nine-year-old can train a 300-pound pig, but you can’t even train your dog. Or that your future spouse could be waiting under the sparkling lights of a barn dance. Or that the spectacle of cars careening through mud is actually beautiful. Or that a stepdancer’s feet move faster than the eye can see. Or that the look on your kids’ faces, as they watch tractors aglow with Christmas lights parade down Main Street, is something you will never forget. Or that being Canadian, you just get the fiddle. Whether you want to experience holiday, community or harvest traditions celebrated traditionally, or see a new rural breed of chefs, artists and artisans mash-up those traditions and show you something really new, it’s here, it’s live, and you won’t get it anywhere else.
Country isn’t just a place. It’s experiences, tastes, sights, sounds. The roar of a tractor pull. The screams from a clackety rollercoaster. The sizzle of ribs longer than your arm. The joy of a fiddle at full-tilt. Our year-round, something-for-everyone events mix tradition with good times and plenty of sunshine.
Our communities stay strong by celebrating together, always to live music and heaping plates of homemade food. Traditionally, country events were a chance to reconnect with neighbours from farms far away, fundraise for local needs, and showcase the marvels coaxed from our lands.
We’ll get to our beloved fall fairs in a bit, but crowds also drive up for our many art and music festivals. Every June, 35,000 people stroll the 25 free venues at the Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival. Shelburne’s iconic Fiddlefest, early August, presents classic roast beef dinners set to the toe-tapping twang of first-class fiddlers. And if you’re a picker yourself, Shelburne’s Pickin’ In The Park (July 23 – 26) invites you to unfold a lawn chair and join a jamboree camp-out.
Looking for something even countrier? You can celebrate man’s love of getting things dirty, as 4X4’s and ATV’s race in the mud at Sweatpea’s Mudbog in Amaranth throughout the summer; celebrate the legendary John Deere legacy in tractor parades, vintage displays and country roasts, at the John Deere Weekend in Grand Valley in July; or celebrate all things slimy and beautiful at the Belfountain Conservation Area Salamander Festival (September). And for tradition, agricultural pride and 2000-calorie treats, you must attend a real Fall Fair at least once.
All year ‘round, from Christmas light shows and concerts to craft shows to farmers’ markets, we’re celebrating a way of life. And like all celebrations, the more, the countrier.