London·Photos

London, Ont.'s Western Fair makes its comeback after 2 years, and excitement is in the air

The annual Western Fair is back in full swing in London, Ont., for its 145th year after being on pause for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual fair has returned to the Western Fair District for it's 145th year

A woman and two small children stand in front of a fair ride.
Thousands of people attended the 145th Western Fair since it opened Sept. 9, for the first time in two years. This family came to the fair for the first time ever and are enjoying all the rides. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

The annual Western Fair is back in full swing in London, Ont., for its 145th year after being on pause for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Everyone from first-time vendors to returning ones, and attendees are making the most of the 10-day fair with various food stalls, shops, games, live entertainment, and rides. 

"There's a lot of smiles on people's faces so it's just fantastic to be back," said Greg Blanchard, the fair's director of sales and retail operations.

"I just missed seeing the crowds and people enjoying themselves, that's what the fair is all about so to see people come back after two years has been really heartwarming."

Two women stand inside of a tent with baked goods on a table in front of them.
The St. Thomas-based Fritter Shop is a first time vendor at the fair this year. The family business is slowly expanding into London. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Among some of the first-time vendors at this year's fair was the St. Thomas-based 'Fritter Shop'. The family-owned shop's manager Ticiana Braga says it's been amazing watching customers enjoy their sweet treats. 

"The best reaction is when they [customers] get the fritters while they're warm and have their first bite, they love it and just come back for more," she said. 

Blanchard says the fair has a brand new layout this year, including first-time concerts at the sports centre's main arena, and new shows like the canine circus and smash wrestling inside the community pavilion. 

A dog does a trick in front of its owner inside of a large tent.
The canine circus inside the Western Fair's community pavilion is a new addition. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

The best part of the fair for best friends Keitlyn Kato and Aoife McKenzie, was meeting new people on rides. They say they look forward to enjoying more rides and having good food. 

"It's been really fun, I haven't been in a long time and we were just hanging mid-air, upside down [on a ride] and we were like 'Hey what school do you go to?' so that's a good connection that we made," Kato said. 

"The thrill of the rides totally brings you closer to people, I'm so glad the Western Fair is back," McKenzie added.

Two girls stand in front of a tent at the fair.
Aoife McKenzie, left, and Keitlyn Kato are making new friends while they enjoy all the rides at the Western Fair (Isha Bhargava/CBC)
Stuffed prizes hang above a fair game.
One of the many carnival games at the fair. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Visiting the fair has been a yearly tradition for Shawn Miller and his partner Jacquelyn. They said they really missed the feeling of being part of a hometown event again. 

"I really love just getting out and seeing everything, I'm going to try everything this year," Miller said.

Jacquelyn said she can't wait to ride the Ferris wheel.

A couple stand in front of a ticket booth at a fair.
Shawn and Jacquelyn are thrilled to be back to their yearly tradition of visiting the Western Fair. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)
London's annual Western Fair has made its comeback for the 145th year. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)
A band plays on a stage.
The 'Only in East Village Music Garden' featured lots of live music performances (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

The fair will run everyday until Sept. 18 from 3 p.m.to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isha Bhargava is a multiplatform reporter for CBC News. She's worked for Ontario newsrooms in Toronto and London. She loves telling current affairs and human interest stories. You can reach her at isha.bhargava@cbc.ca or on Twitter @isha__bhargava

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