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Renfrew Fair is back for the 167th edition of the event

The Renfrew Fair is more than just rides as it draws on the rich agricultural heritage of the area.

One hundred and sixty seven years later, the Renfrew Fair will once again be back to entertain thousands of visitors and local residents with what promises to be the highlight of the traditional county fairs in the Ottawa Valley.

Although all the major Valley fairs were cancelled last year due to COVID-19, the Renfrew Fair opened its gates  — although in a scaled down version — and thousands of guests poured through and enjoyed the limited four-day edition rather than the traditional five days.

Along the way, the organizing committee opted to cancel the beloved tradition of hosting the demolition derby due to its popularity and the chance thousands would gather in one venue just as COVID was easing its effect.

However, this year the demolition derby is back, but it has switched from its traditional Wednesday night venue to Saturday night. The 167th Renfrew Fair is shaping up and organizers have announced the entertainment lineup for the September 8 to September 11 event. 

Country artists David James and Eric Ethridge are Friday, September 9 headliners and the Tragically Hip cover band Little Bones are the main act Saturday, September 10. The Ottawa-based band is one of the longest-running Hip tribute bands, having been performing for more than 27 years.

On Sunday, September 11, Leahy the Next Generation will entertain fair goers.

Along with the return of the demolition derby, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Musical Ride returns to the fair this year with a Friday, September 9 night performance.

Fair general manager Judy Dobec, who has overseen the fall event for more than 30 years, is excited about the upcoming event, but admits it will be a bittersweet occasion for her personally.

“We think it’s a great lineup,” said Dobec, who is retiring in October of 2022. “It has been a great run and to be here to see it return to a full lineup after dealing with COVID the last three years is something we are all excited about. The fair board and all the volunteers who make this happen are excited for September.”

As was the case last year, the main concerts will be held in the Renfrew Armouries as a means to reduce costs and also allow for the extra venues at the grandstand.

“Then we don’t have to rent a stage for outside and rent tents for the beer gardens,” said Dobec. “With the RCMP Ride and the derby taking place outside and musical acts inside, it also reduces the workload for our volunteers.”

Valley Heritage Radio is taking over the red stage behind the grandstand, noted Dobec, and will have local entertainers performing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Robertson’s Amusements will be the midway provider.

“We were happy with their setup last year and it was also a scaled down version,” she said. “But they are bringing a bigger midway this year and I am pretty sure our guests will appreciate the variety of rides to keep all ages happy.”

The Renfrew Fair is more than just rides as it draws on the rich agricultural heritage of the area and that means there will be plenty of competition with horses, cattle and other animals showcased. The fair has been a major stepping stone for area youth, with some deciding to enter the agricultural sector as a full time career.

Planning began earlier this year and according to Dobec, things are progressing.

“Things are going very well,” said Dobec. “We are staying with the four-day format and we’re just happy to be planning a real fair.”

Admission to the fair will cost $10 for those over the age of 11 and over and $5 for children 10 years and under.

Thursday is going to be Toonie Thursday, with all rides costing $2, Friday will be bracelet day with a pay-one-price bracelet available in the midway, and ride coupons will be required on Saturday and Sunday.

Coupons and passes will be on sale at various stores starting early August up until September 2 at 4 p.m.

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