Memories of the Kinmount Fair with Guy Scott
August 29, 2022
The Kinmount Fair
For a small town celebration, the Kinmount Fair has been remarkably successful over the years. For generations, it has been an event that farm families don’t want to miss, and being on Labour Day weekend, it has been the last blast of summer before many kids go back to school. Kinmount been blessed with many talented volunteers with a remarkable sense of community, who have created many unforgettable attractions over the years.
On Thursday, September 1, from 5-9 pm, the fair will be offering free admission as they celebrate their 150th anniversary with the midway, blackfly boogie band and cupcakes. Jason McCoy will be performing Saturday at 2 pm, the Country 105 Video Dance Party that night at 9 pm and the demolition derby is Sunday at 2:30—all part of a packed weekend of entertainment.
As the fair marks this special milestone we look back at some favourite memories, written by Guy Scott:
The Year the Oxen Came to Fair
Oxen are very old beasts of burden that were last used in Ontario in the late 1800s. They were later replaced by the heavy draft horse. The earliest Fair prize list (1879) had a class for “Team of Oxen”. There were 2 entries! But sometime over the years, the oxen class disappeared from both local farms and the Fair prize list. But in one region of Canada (Atlantic provinces), oxen did not disappear, but remained part of the farm culture. In 1988 Secretary Bill Scott arranged for 3 teams of oxen from Bridgewater Nova Scotia to come to the Kinmount Fair and put on a demonstration. The teams were “pulling oxen”: the same as we have pulling horses. The oxen were in the parade and did a pulling demonstration.
The trip from Nova Scotia took two days. The teamsters admitted they spent the night at a motel in Quebec. “What did you do with the oxen over night?” they were asked. The reply: “We tethered them on the lawn behind the motel”. I wonder what any patrons who looked out their windows thought!
Oxen must have horns to be oxen. The teamsters asked us to inspect the horns of one of the oxen: “see anything unusual?” they asked. I didn’t notice anything. “Well, one of the horns fell off on the trip! One of the men was an autobody guy, and stopped at a Canadian Tire along the way, bought a can of “Bondo” body repair and Voila!; perfect repair job, undetectable to the naked eye!
The Nova Scotian teamsters watched the ATV Obstacle Course competition on Friday Night. The track was a little “too wet” which meant most of the ATVs got stuck and had to be hauled out of the mud. The teamsters wanted to get their oxen and pull the modern marvels out of the mud by old-fashioned ox-power.
It was decided this recourse might be damaging to certain egos. The oxen at Kinmount Fair seemed to touch a cord in the community, and several area farmers began to tour with their own ox teams over the next few years.
The Greasy Pig Contest
One of the contests from past Kinmount Fairs was “Catch the Greasy Pig”. This free-for-all emerged in the 1950s and continued into the 1960s. An “athletic” (read young) pig was released into the horse show ring. The ring was carefully fenced in with snow fencing to act as a prison yard. The contestants, mostly young boys under the age of 16, were allowed into the ring. The pig was liberally covered with grease. In 1956, Terry Hartin was paid $2 to “grease the pigs”. The object was to catch and pin the pig to the ground. This was no mean feat. Besides running down the terrified pig, holding it was an art in itself. There were many tackles, but few could hold on long enough to satisfy the judges. One group who were not satisfied were the mothers of the contestants, who had to do the laundry!
I cannot remember how long such a contest lasted, but it usually ended with the exhausted pig giving up and being corralled by one of the numerous pursuers. The contest was briefly revived in the 1990s, and that contest I do remember. The terrified pig “made” a hole in the fence (at high speed) and was at-large amid the concessions. How in the heck was this break-out going to end well? The excited pursuers followed amid the booths. This had the potential to make “Funniest Home Videos”, if such a show existed at the time. Luck intervened as Robbie Dettman suddenly came hurtling out from under a table and snared the pig by the hind legs. I don’t know how he did it, but thank heavens he did! The show was discontinued the next year.
Chicago Knockers: Women’s Mudwrestling Team Conquers the Kinmount Fair, 1985
In the 1980s, the Kinmount Fair began to “beef-up” its Friday night show by adding entertainment acts to attract more Friday attendance. Something “different” was needed to help build this day. The Chicago Knockers were a Women’s Mud Wrestling act. In the 1980s, they were a big draw on the entertainment circuit. At the annual Fairs’ Convention, the directors saw this act, decided it might “get attention” and booked it for the Friday Night show.
Despite sober second thought, the show went ahead. The poster itself was provocative, and the whole idea of mud wrestling was controversial. Designed to attract attention, it certainly did! One elderly lady berated the author about having a “strip show” at the Fair. “I will never attend the Fair again!” she thundered. Well, on show night, there she was in the front row leaping to her feet and yelling at the top of her voice!
The night was cold and the scanty uniforms (not to mention the frigid mud) required copious amounts of hot water to warm/wash/wet the ladies. Steam rose from the competitors as the bouts proceeded. But the highlight of the night was the “Celebrity Match”: the Chicago Knockers vs the Ottawa Connection.
The Ottawa team consisted of two local MPs: Bill Scott and Bill Vankoughnet (also labelled The Two Bills). Both gentlemen were not the “sleekest” of physical specimens. They were both over 200 pounds and not what one would call “wrestler shape”. Bill Scott had practiced wrestling with calves before the event. On show night, it was discovered the Two Bills would be facing 100-pound gymnasts! It looked like a mismatch. It was.
The girls were fit and fast. The Bills were too heavy for them to flip. It was arranged in advance the girls would give a tip to the Bills to bounce into the air a bit and allow the girls to throw the Bills onto the mat. For some reason, Bill Vankoughnet ignored his signal leaving the straining mud wrestler trying to unsuccessfully hoist the heavyweight. She released him and gave him a shot to the stomach! The next attempt resulted in a successful flip! Needless to say, the girls were the fan favourites. Who cheers for an overweight politician over a lady in a bathing suit!
The whole night was a success. The huge crowd (including my indignant lady friend) enjoyed the show. There were lots of hollering, cheering and (especially) laughing. The show was the talk of the town for some time. (The Fair received several inquiries about where we found that show.) For some strange reason, there was never a rematch?
Kinmount Fair Takes to the Air!
Three times in its long history the Kinmount Fair has hosted an air show. The first show was in 1919 when the Colley Airplane Company brought one of those new-fangled aeroplanes to the Fair for a demonstration. Aeroplanes were “new” technology in the first 2 decades of the 1900s. Most Canadians had a hard time grasping the fact flight was now possible. The Colley Aeroplane Co traveled all over Ontario demonstrating the miracle of flight at fairs and other events. Kinmount Fair hosted this show in 1919. Doing stunts with an aeroplane was called “barnstorming”. Sometimes the aeroplane took passengers for a flight, for a cost of course.
The second air show was in 1977 when the Fair hosted the Carling Red Cap Stunt Team. This 4-plane show was sponsored by Rothmans Cigarettes and came courtesy of Wilmot Tennyson. The group flew out of Buttonville Airport for several years, appearing at various events in Ontario. They flew the famous Pitts S-2A special biplanes. One of the planes used at the Kinmount Show is now in the Canadian Aviation Museum!
In 2006 the skies above the Kinmount Fair were again filled with the roar of engines as the CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team of the Canadian Armed Forces did a fly-over for the Fair. The two planes were coming from the CNE Airshow in Toronto and returning to Trenton Air Base, they “detoured a bit” to Kinmount. It was only a few minutes out of their way! The leader was Captain William Radiff, a local boy now promoted to General! I think he knew the way to Kinmount!
For more information on this year’s fair, check out:
For more memories of the Kinmount Fair check out Guy Scott’s The Story of the Kinmount Fair, available at Kinmount’s Artisan’s Marketplace, located in the Community Hall.