Marking 160 years of agriculture and fun in the community August 30th – September 3rd.

By: Yvonne Van De Wiele-Cooper

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Who knew the crew preparing the Paris Fairgrounds for the annual, premier event would be called on to build a special pond for an alligator?

For the 10th year in a row, Quebec based “Little Ray’s Reptiles” are back with four shows a day. The star of the show is a three-legged alligator named “Miss Chomps-a-Lot.” And Miss Chomps-a-Lot requires special accommodations.

“We have to dig a 10 by 10 foot, three foot deep hole in the ground and we’re lining it so we can put water in it, so she can stay nice and cool,” said Manager of the Paris Agricultural Society, Cheryl Muir.

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Protective barriers will be in place to keep Miss Chomps-a-Lot from living up to her name. Miss Chomps-a-Lot, explained Muir, is a rescue reptile and a “pretty special” alligator.

In addition to Little Ray’s reptile display outside, there is also an exhibit in the curling building dubbed “Survival of the slowest,” featuring less ambitious animals including a sloth. “Kids of all ages love to see a sloth,” said Muir.

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Paris Fair goers also love their monster truck shows and they’ll be able to get their fill again this year. The trucks on monstrously big tires will be there Thursday night. Performances are also scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and this year, thrill seekers can pay a fee and take a ride in a monster truck.

Friday, Saturday and Monday night grand stand shows feature the ever popular demolition derby. “It’s huge, the crowds love it and they can’t get enough it,” says Muir.

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As for the big name musical entertainment this year, country crooning, up and comer Andrew Hyatt opens the Sunday night Grand Stand show for U.S. sensation Canaan Smith.

There are of course craft, art, food and animal exhibits as well. The heavy horse show, a favourite of Muir’s, runs Monday. “The six horse hitch is just amazing and just gives me chills down my spine every time I see those,” she said. Meantime, in the horse valley rings there will be barrel racing, a cutting horse show and English horse shows.

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Campbell Amusements has been providing the midway at the Paris Fair for more than 40 years and they’ll be back to help celebrate the 160th edition. Along with rides and games, the popular “bloomin” onions and mini-donuts will be back as part of Campbell’s culinary fare.

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If it’s a home-cooked meal you’re looking for, the Paris Agricultural Society’s home craft division will feature catered meals on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Friday night is meatloaf night. Saturday night features a ham dinner and Sunday night is roast beef. “We generally feed two to three hundred people each night,” said Muir.

The Paris Fair welcomes about 60,000 people each year from as far away as Windsor, Toronto and surrounding areas.

It’s no wonder. For the third time in their history the Fair was recently recognized as one of the top 100 festivals and events in Ontario.

Muir says they were also “very pleased” to be awarded a “Celebrate Ontario” grant this year, allowing them to bring in the second “Survival of the Slowest” exhibit and foot the cost for some of the musical entertainment.

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The Fair is a non-profit operation and runs on a budget of about $700,000. Muir says for the most part, they run in the black. Any profits made go to helping community groups with lower rental fees of the Fair buildings and toward upgrades for the buildings themselves.

They do it all with only two-and-a-half staff members and a dedicated team of volunteers. During the course of a fair weekend, some 500 volunteers will be on hand, including local high school students and people who simply love the community.

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“It’s such a happy, community oriented event and even though we continue to grow and our visitors are from far and wide, it still has a small rural community feel when you walk in those gates,” said Muir.

Muir says they’re also very excited to host the opening of the Brant United Way fundraising kick-off on the Sunday morning. But it won’t be just a simple announcement. It will be launched with a truck pulling event featuring teams of people, not horses, pulling trucks down the track in front of the grand stand.

New this year, tickets for day passes, weekend passports and VIP concert tickets can be purchased online at to avoid any line-up at the gates. There is an early bird discount for the VIP concert tickets when you purchase online as well.

The 160th edition of the Paris Fair runs August 30th through September 3rd. For more information, check out