Beginnings of the Lloydminster Fair

By Sandra L. Brown

July 14, 2016 12:00 AM

Colonial Days actually began, then grew, as two fairs that merged into our current celebration.

It takes more than just living in a town to call it home, to bond with and to cultivate its progress. 
In the early days of the Lloydminster community, fairs created opportunities to improve livestock and farming skills. 
Promoting the community by bringing town and country folks together, fairs were more a social event amidst friendly competitions. 
In the early beginnings, each side of the provincial boundary held their own fairs in September and October. 
The Lloydminster Bazaar, Garden Show, and Sale held in October 1904 displaying agricultural products, was really a forerunner to the first Lloydminster fairs. 
It showed the pioneers that there was a significant advantage in forming an agricultural society.
A public meeting held in April 1905 at the Immigration Hall eventually led to the formation of the Lloydminster and District Agricultural Society. 
The annual subscription was $1, which initially entitled its members the right to vote for the election of officers. 
Separate provincial societies were formed in 1906 (
Saskatchewan) and in 1908 (Alberta), eventually amalgamating in 1921.
The consolidation gave a strong background for the development of the Lloydminster Agricultural Exhibition Association, and yielded a noteworthy record of agricultural achievements and prominence as the years progressed.
Class competitions varied for men, women, and children. 

Entrance fees for exhibitors in 1905 were 25 cents each for animal classes, 10 cents each for the other classes and Agricultural Society members could exhibit free of charge.
Prize lists were available from the society’s president, or at the Lloydminster Times office. 
There were two prizes, which varied from 25 cents to $5 awarded in each class.
Agricultural products included classes for both bushels and a sheaf of wheat, milling oats, and barley. 
The bushels of wheat, oats, and barley were to be hand threshed. 
Vegetables including beets, cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, lettuce, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, rhubarb, swedes (a cross between a cabbage and a turnip), and onions had a specified quantity for each class. 
In addition, prizes were awarded for the best collection of vegetables or local grasses, and grain in a sheaf. 
Livestock classes brought the best of local breeds together.
Domestic entries varied with classes for both men and women. 
Men’s classes included best pound of butter, two-pound loaf of white bread or brown bread. 
The rules required that they had to be made by a man. 
Women could exhibit their talents in baking, various types of butter, homemade cheeses, jams made from local wild fruit, pickles, trussed pair of chicken or ducks, and a dozen brown or white eggs. 
Ladies could also display their crocheting, darning (mending), knitting, and sewing skills. 
Children entered in age related classes for best writing in a copybook, drawing a cow with horns, writing an essay on Lloydminster and displaying a collection of wild flowers or grasses.
The Miscellaneous class included the best darn or patch on a cotton grain bag completed by a man. 
As part of the three-day fair in 1934, Children’s Day was on July 23. 
Exhibit classes for children included livestock, needlework, sewing, cooking, schoolwork, models made from wood or metal and a garden competition. 
Participants and spectators enjoyed the milking contest.
In 1953, when the community celebrated its first fifty years, the fair began with a two-mile parade. 
One of the major award winning floats was a replica of the S.S. Lake Manitoba that brought the first group of Barr Colonists over from England. 
Many of the new arrivals came from industrialized cities and had no farming background. 
A major attraction at the Exhibition Grounds was the Barr Colonist building erected that spring as a tribute to the original pioneers. 
It housed a collection of documents, photographs, furniture, and clothing pertaining to the colony’s beginnings.
Working and playing together as a community gave them energy whilst building a unified faith for the future. 
It was not always easy having their strength pushed to the limit, testing their brawn.  It was hard work; many encountered tragedy, or met with failure. 
Some gave up and went back to England. 
For those that stayed demonstrating true pioneering spirit, social events such as community fairs were a means of providing a reprieve from the daily routine of prairie life.

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