New Brunswick

Sussex fair may shut down after 117 years

The Sussex fair may be forced to close after more than 100 years because of drops in government funding and participation in recent years.
The days may be numbered for the Sussex Fair after 117 years 2:06

The Kings County Agricultural Fair has been an annual event in Sussex since 1895 but the exhibition’s days may be numbered because of cutbacks and a dwindling interest from the community.

The Sussex fair is recognized as the oldest agricultural event in Canada.

Jenna Munro, the fair’s vice president, said she is worried the fair won't be able to survive.

Munro said organizers have been operating on a shoestring budget and the loss of $1,000 in government funding hurts.

"Without funding, it's really hard to make this a go," she said.

Jenna Munro, the fair’s vice president, said the fair is struggling with fewer funds and less participation. (CBC)

"We have a great facility here, but we have to pay for it, obviously. But with the grant being cut again -- $1,000 this year -- it's really making it hard for us to proceed for the next and following years."

The provincial government’s previous grant had been $5,000.

Munro said it's not only the lack of funding that's endangering the future of the Kings County Agricultural Fair. She said there is also less interest from the community.

Munro said the fair organizers asked businesses to help fund the fair to help ease the financial pressures. But she said only two businesses responded.

There have also been fewer people taking part in the local competitions.

The annual beef competition was cancelled this year because of a lack of participation.

The three-day fair wraps up on Wednesday and by then organizers expect to know whether this century-old fair will be back next year.

Other long-time agricultural fairs in the Maritimes are finding they need to modernize to survive.

‘Farms are slowly dwindling’

Munro said the fair’s troubles speak to a larger trend, especially in the Sussex area.

"Farms are slowly dwindling but...if you heard of Sussex introduced anymore now it’s notified as the mining town," she said.

PotashCorp. is building a second mine in the area. As well, Atlantic Potash Corp. is exploring the possibility of building a potash mine in the region.

Corridor Resources is also drilling for natural gas in the area.

Even though, Sussex is diversifying its economic base, a group of Sussex teens did their best earlier this year to shine a light on the town’s agricultural heritage.

Jed Webster, Nathan Brown and Mac Miller performed a four-minute parody of the LMFAO song, Sexy and I know it.

The video has had more than 550,000 views on YouTube and shows the teens dancing around their community and showing the lighter side of the farming town.

Carrie Corbett, a local 4H member, said she was proud of how the video portrayed the town’s heritage.

"They even put the fun spin on farming too they showed that you can have fun with it and that we are proud to having farming in our blood," she said.