Although officially it’s not quite the Fall yet, give it a week and it will be. And with the turn of the leaves, comes the falling of the harvest festival in communities all around Toronto. Nothing beats a fall fair for a Cheap Date to end a summer romance – or to kickstart that fling into something a little more lasting.
There are a couple kinds of fall fairs: one has animals and demolition derbies and the other is more about gourmet jellies and wrought iron lawn sculptures. Both are going to have plenty of sno-cones and home made fudge.
But, admittedly Fall festivals are about more than hand cut French fries and baby donuts smothered in icing sugar.
Whether the event you choose is homespun and oldtimey, or sophisticated and artsy, seasonable celebrations are very affordable entertainment. If you plan it right, you can even hit a different fair every weekend for the as long as the season is Autumnal, and spend less than 30 dollars each time.
Here’s a very small selection of the closest and the best.
The Markham Fair is your best bet for a true agricultural experience without leaving the GTA. It is also one of Canada’s largest and oldest fairs. At it you can experience all the fun of the midway, demolition derby, adorable animals, tractor pull and baking competitions. Admission is the rather reasonable 10 dollars a person.
September 28th to October 1st
The Lindsay Exhibition is an agricultural festival, just like the Markham Fair – but it is a little more authentically country as it’s just a bit farther out, in an area that can much more authentically be called “rural” (rather than just suburban) – and it happens a week earlier. Getting there is really only an option for those of us with cars, but it would be a picturesque drive through a countryside full of fall colours (if the leaves start changing anytime soon that is). Admission is only 5 dollars per adult.
September 20th to 24th.
A lot closer to home is the Downsview Park Fall FairThis free event located is within city limits and focuses on nature and the enviroment. Being, in fact, urban, this is not going to be terribly authentic as country fairs go – but what it lacks in authenticity, it makes up for by being on the Subway line.
If you have a hard time appreciating the rural variety of fall fairs because of a general lack of public drunkenness the Grape and Wine Festival, in St. Catharines (the heart of Niagara wine country) might be for you. This harvest festival is all about – well – exactly what it sounds like: Grapes, and wine. Despite the boozy theme, there are events for the whole family like the Pied Piper parade (a parade that every child that shows up in costume gets to participate in) – but really, this event is all about the wine. It’s a great place to try out all those Niagara vintages you’ve been meaning to (all priced rather economically by the glass). Watch out though, since admission is free, your 30 bucks goes a long way (believe me, I speak from experience). Best of all, it lasts for a full week and two weekends.
September 22nd to October 1st.
The Thornhill Festival is a local one day event and falls more on the hand blown glass and hand rolled truffles end of the fall festival spectrum – definitely palatable for the more discerning urbanite fairgoer. Even though Thornhill is technically in the GTA, it’s only a short distance away from the nearest TTC stop – walkable for the adventurous.
Admission is only four dollars.