The Oro World’s Fair is a 160 year tradition in Oro Township. The first Oro Fair was held in 1852 at Rix’s Tavern at the NW corner of lot 15 on the first concession. The president of the first Oro Fair was Richard Drury, and Joseph Thomas was the first secretary-treasurer. The first members of the Oro Agricultural Society also included names such as Partridge, Hickling, Campbell, Atkinson, McCuaig, Caldwell, Fletcher, Crawford and O’Brien – and many of their ancestors still play prominent roles in making the Oro Fair successful. In it’s early years, the Oro Fair was held at various taverns in the township before it finally settled at the Township Hall in 1869. (It is on record that the 1855 fair, held at White’s Tavern in Dalston, netted Mr. White 8 shillings and 9 pence from serving refreshments to the Judges!) The year previously, the Oro Council had acquired land and built the Township Hall to serve as a focal point for the community. In these early years, membership fees for the Oro Agricultural Society which organized and ran the fair, a small legislative grant, plus donations from local citizens financed the Oro Fair.In 1877, looking for new areas of revenue to expand the Fair, a collection box was placed at the entrance gate on Fair Day – by sunset it contained a grand sum of $2.25 – a pretty penny in those days! This was the forerunner of the admission fee for Oro Fair, and the money collected to see the sights of Oro Fair continues to finance the improvements and events held at the Fair each year. In 1878, the Oro Agricultural Society opened the fair to all residents in the Dominion of Canada, believing that the produce of Oro could compete with the best the world had to offer. Hence, the grand title of Oro World’s Fair was born. In 1886, the directors of the Fair decided to omit the prize given out each year for the best yoke of oxen and decided to add more horse prizes – this marked the end of an era for Oro Fair.

In 1914, it was decided to build a new building to display the fruits and vegetables that were the product of the early pioneer orchards and grain crops from the fertile fields of Oro. This building was also used for the School Fair, and in 1954, was moved to its present location at the north end of the fairgrounds and an addition was added to the building. This building continues to host the exhibits of Oro’s schoolchildren. In 1920, a horse shed was built near the center of the race track and provided much-needed protection for the horses on hot or rainy days. In need of repairs, and with the number of horses at the Oro Fair beginning to dwindle as tractor power dominated agriculture, the horse shed was torn down in 1966.

The Oro School Fair, sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, began as a separate event in 1915 and continued until 1939, when it was withdrawn. In 1948, it was reestablished in conjunction with the Oro Fair and has continued until the present day, adding much to the Senior Fair.

In 1952, the 100th Anniversary of Oro Fair was celebrated, and the Hon. Leslie Frost, then Premier of Ontario, led a procession of many floats depicting Oro’s past, and officially opened the 100th Oro Fair.

In the past years, the Tug-of-War teams, the Oxen-Pulling Competition, and the Chuck-Wagon races provided Fairgoers with lots of entertainment and friendly competition, however, these traditions have gradually died out with the passing of time, and new events have been added to take their place. The Oro World’s Fair Tractor Pull, Hunter-Jumper Show, Midway, Dog Show, Talent Show, Fashion Show, Western Fun and Gaming Show, the Demolition Derby and many other fun and entertaining displays are the attractions of our modern Fair.

In 1974, the one-day midweek Fair changed to a two-day weekend event, and the Annual Beef Draw was also established – which has become an Oro Fair Tradition.

Many will remember the meals served by the ladies of the Central Oro Church on the day of the Fair, an occasion that many residents of the township looked forward to very fondly.

In 1998, the Oro Agricultural Society purchased additional land for the Fair as the popularity of the event grew and more displays, vendors, and events came to be a part of the event. Just prior to this, two new buildings were also erected at the fairgrounds.

In 2002, the Oro Fair celebrated it’s 150th Anniversary, and this occasion was marked with a plaque presented by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food. This plaque marked the 150 years of hardwork and dedication to Ontario Agriculture by the Oro Agricultural Society and is proudly displayed by the entrance to the Township Hall.

Through the years, it has been the hard work and dedication of the volunteers and directors of the Oro World’s Fair that has made this one of the most entertaining and successful rural fairs in Ontario.

PRESIDENTS OF THE ORO AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY

 

1923      George Crawford
1924-25 H.J. Barnhardt
1927-28 G. Rouse
1929-30 W.I. Clark
1931-32 James Brandon
1933-34 Walter Thompson
1935-38 E.B. Guest
1939-40 John Walker
1941-42 Thomas Fletcher
1943-44 Ernest Crawford
1945-46 A.C. Currie
1947-48 J.A. Reid
1949-50 A.C. Bartholomew
1951-52 Victor Ross
1953-54 Orten Crawford
1955-56 Ken Gilchrist
1957-58 Ernest Coates
1959-62 Earl Reid
1962-63 John A. Woodrow
1964-65 Gordon Clark
1966-67 Lloyd Fletcher
1968-69 Bernal McKay
1970-71 Joe Levison
1972-73 Keith Sanderson
1974-75 John Currie
1976-77 Duncan Cameron
1978-79 Roy Campbell
1980-81 George Tran
1982-83 Bob Currie
1984-85 Orval Hutchinson
1986-87 Lena Simpson
1988-89 Ken Tran
1990-91 Glenn Bidwell
1992-93 Charles Simpson
1994-95 Paul Miller
1996-99 Ron Sommers
2000-01 Lynda Crawford
2002-03 George Tran
2004-05 Wayne Lynch
2006-07 Bruce Campbell
2008-09 Orval Hutchinson
2010-11 George Lucas
2012-13 Don Campbell
2014-15 Doug Hutchinson
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“It was as much a social as an agricultural event – the hall containing the products of the women’s deft fingers stood near the gate.At one side was a long shed, devoted to the display of farm produce – a grandstand, formed by nature from a grassy knoll covered with sweet smelling pines, rose at one side and made a convenient and delightful resting place.Now it was thronged with people and resounding with a joyous bedlam of all the noises that all the farms in Oro joined together could produce.”

Marion Keith (1874-1961)
(famous Oro-born Canadian author

Oro Agricultural Society Board of Directors – 1952

OWF Ticket Office

Unveiling of the new ticket office in 2014 for the 162nd Oro World’s Fair