Fairs cut rides to save on costs

Shawna O'Neill, TC Media
Fairs cut rides to save on costs

UNITED COUNTIES OF SDG, Ontario – Some summer fairs are finding alternative ways to replace the fun of midways this year due to changes with pricing and availability. 

“Eventually there will be no midways out there,” said John Cope, owner of Cope Amusement. “I’m the smallest one out there right now.”

Cope said there are several factors as to why it is becoming more troublesome to book a midway. The cost of inspections, licensing, paying workers and transporting the rides is continually increasing. There is also the risk of transportation related fines that could easily amount to $10,000 in one trip, according to Cope.

“This year, three out of the 10 companies at the convention had gone bankrupt,” said Patsy MacKinnon, a Secretary with the Maxville Fair. The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (OAAS) held its annual convention in February, where fair organizers can inquire about booking rides.

“Last year, it cost us $8,000 (to have a midway) and the price would have doubled this year,” said MacKinnon. “We can’t afford that. We are a small, community fair that’s trying to succeed and to keep our agricultural roots.”

This year’s Maxville Fair was held the weekend before Canada Day weekend, and as MacKinnon noted, timing is very important given the decreasing number of companies servicing the region. But

The Avonmore Fair and Williamstown Fair won’t have rides this year, but like the Maxville Fair, there will be a number of inflatable structures for kids to bounce and play on.

“We couldn’t come to an agreement with the midway provider and there are very few servicing the area,” said Bryce Robinson, a director with the Avonmore Fair for over 20 years.

The President of the Williamstown Fair, Hamish MacDonell, wasn’t available for a comment at the time of publication.

Cornwall Ribfest and the Stormont County Fair will have midways this year.

“In the midway industry there are changes occurring,” said Barbara Ann Glaude, a long-time Secretary Treasurer. “Our current midway will be on site this year. Fewer rides than last year, but it’ll be there.”

“I think this is what’s to come for small community fairs,” said MacKinnon. “You would have to get someone to sponsor it and it would be an extremely good sponsorship. They want to go some place that will draw tens and thousands of people, instead of thousands of people.”

Share this article