The West Elgin Agricultural Society was formed around 1860, and was formed by the three townships of Southwold, Dunwich, and Aldborough. On October 19th, 1860, the Wallacetown Fair (then called Elgin County Fair) was held in New Glasgow, under the sponsorship of the newly formed West Elgin Agricultural Society. While many recognize this to be the first Elgin County Fair, some records indicate that the Elgin County Fair began as early as 1853, before West and East Elgin branches were established.
A New Location
It soon became obvious that New Glasgow was too far west for the Society, and after heated controversy the fair was moved to Wallacetown due to its central location. Land purchases from 1869, 1875, 1904 and 1937 brought the size of the fairgrounds to the present 20.34 acres.
From the beginning and throughout its time the Wallacetown fair has reflected the activities of the community and combined entertainment with exhibitions of the best currently available in livestock and farm produces as well as the baking and handcrafts of women in the community. Originally exhibitions featured displays of working oxen and for many years prizes were given to the fastest walking teams. It was not until 1875 that an addition to the fairgrounds that a quarter-mile track was created and trotting races began. This expanded into the half-mile track in 1937 and in 1947 modernization was completed with the introduction of starting gates. Special attractions over the years have included auto demonstrations in 1912, a ploughing match in 1924, a potato race, a Shetland pony race, musical chair race, greyhound races, chariot races and much more.
Keep Up the Good Work
Many improvements have been made to the fairgrounds in the past 60 years. A new judges’ stand was erected in 1958 and in 1960 a new ticket office and iron "Centennial Gates" were built at the entrance of the fairgrounds in honour of all past presidents and directors of the fair. A Dedication Service was held on Friday, September 30th, 1960 with Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in attendance, in celebration of the Fair’s Centennial.
A Community Space
While the property is owned by the Wallacetown Agricultural Society, community use of the grounds has been encouraged for many years. The Society constantly works at maintaining and upgrading the grounds with additional lighting and building repairs undertaken to make the fair more attractive both during the day and at night as well.