The wackiest fall fair events across Canada

You might think festival season is over with the passing of August, but there’s a whole slew of fairs happening this fall. But instead of carnival rides and baskets of fresh fruits, we have tractor races, gourds the size of grown men, and yes, even frog-jumping contests. Here’s a list of Canada’s wackiest (and greatest) fall fairs.

Paisley Fair, September 8 – Paisley, Ontario

The Paisley Fair is full of lots of oddball competitions. There’s the contest where frogs compete for titles like “fastest frog,” “farthest jumper,” and “first frog to jump out of the hoop.” Other choice events include “smoothest short-haired cat,” “dog with the longest tail,” and “fluffiest rat.” We feel much sympathy for the rat judges.

Hants County Exhibition, September 13-15, 19-22 – Windsor, Nova Scotia

Hants County Exhibition is older than Canada by over a century. Established in 1765, it’s the oldest, continuously run agricultural fair in North America. The fair has changed since then. Instead of ostrich and pig races, new features include photography contests, musical rides, and the ever-popular Redneck Olympics, where “athletes” compete in events like mutton bustin’, stick-horse barrel racing, and tug of war. May the biggest hick win!

Salt Spring Island’s Annual Fall Fair, September 14 to 15 – Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

Despite Salt Spring Island’s pirate-free history, this year’s fair theme is Pirates of the Carrots and Beans. (But the fair is quick to point out the island’s rumoured past of rum-running in the Prohibition era.) The fair will feature pet parades, a sweetest-apple contest (the judges of this competition have without a doubt the best job), and the highly competitive zucchini stock-car drag races. Winner gets bragging rights for the whole year.

Gourd and Creative Art Show, September 21 to 22 – Buckhorn, Ontario 

Needless to say, this festival is all about celebrating the gourd. Fair-goers can attend plenty of workshops, where they can learn how to create artful masterpieces out of gourds, like fairy houses, silk-dyed gourd bowls, gourd hand drums, and a two-stringed gourd guitar. The highlight of the festival is the Gourdster Races. Participants compete to make the fastest cruising gourd on wheels.

Great White North Pumpkin Fair and Weigh Off, October 5 – Smoky Lake, Alberta

Located in the self-proclaimed pumpkin capital of Canada, Smoky Lake hosts its 24th annual fair celebrating the orange gourd. Last year’s winning pumpkin weighed in at a whopping 1,275 pounds and traveled over 600-kilometers for the contest. Watermelons, squash, and long gourds will also compete for their respective titles as the most gargantuan, but the pumpkin is the main draw.

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, November 1 to 10 – Toronto, Ontario

On the surface, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair seems like your run-of-the-mill fair where farmers and urbanites who have a penchant for canning and Mason jars get together in downtown Toronto. But on the inside, the fair is filled to the brim with plenty of wacky elements, like butter sculpture competitions, jump courses that replicate the obstacles riders face while fox hunting, and cow-milking demos – while a typical chore for rural Canadians, it’s a novel delight for city-dwellers. Over 4,000 animals will be making their way to the Direct Energy Centre, which means it’ll be a wilder celebration than when the Leafs made the play-offs.

Canadian Western Agribition, November 11 to 16 – Regina, Saskatchewan

The Canadian Western Agribition gets kudos for its punny name, which surprisingly isn’t more common among fall fairs. It’s Regina’s answer to the Calgary Stampede, with ranch horse demos, trailer races, and livestock competitions. There are also exhibitor contests for what seem like every category imaginable, such as guinea pigs, dough art, Lego projects, plus an entire class devoted to pickles.