Family, tradition and the importance of agriculture are what make the Paris Fair a special time for 2012 fair ambassador Deanna Vervaecke.
The 17-year-old Brantford Collegiate Institute student, whose mother Beth was queen of the fair in 1985, has volunteered at the fair for years and says those values keep her coming back.
“I would have to say the amount of care the volunteers put in. They really care about keeping the fair personal, family-based and traditional,” Vervaecke said.
Her great-grandfather, Jim Howell, was a fair organizer in the 1960s, and with so many relatives on board, helping out was the natural thing to do.
“You’re voluntold at first, but then you get the bug, and you wait for the Paris Fair to come,” said Vervaecke, who is one of the 350-plus volunteers who keep the fair’s many moving parts in motion.
As ambassador, Vervaecke spends her days greeting visitors and awarding prizes for 4-H contests and talent shows, while visiting the many pavilions and exhibits at the fair, including her personal favourite, the motorcycle speedway.
“It’s really cool. I really enjoy seeing all the stuff I haven’t been able to see while I was volunteering,” she said.
The five-day fair boasts big-time country music acts, a busy midway, and what’s billed as Canada’s largest demolition derby. But just as important are the farming showcases, 4-H Club contests and agriculture-themed educational displays that remind fairgoers of the event’s rural roots.
Coming from a family that has farmed apples at Brantview Apples and Cider in St. George for generations, Vervaecke makes agricultural promotion a mainstay of her ambassadorial duties.
“Like the logo says, farmers feed cities. So you really can’t live without agriculture,” she said.
The 4-H contests provide opportunities for youth to work on their own projects, whether it be growing carrots or corn, baking cupcakes, taking photographs or making pirate-themed crafts. Along with the chance at a prize comes pride at completing a challenge and learning along the way.
More than the shows and spectacle, Vervaecke says she loves to see the smiles on children’s faces as they show their horses, play in the kids corner, fly through the air on a midway ride and see their hard work rewarded with a ribbon.
“It’s just really cool to see everyone saying that the Paris Fair is their favourite fair,” Vervaecke said.
The Paris Fair continues Sunday with Emerson Drive in concert and Monday with the demolition derby. For full schedule and pricing details, visit www.parisfair.com.