The fair was started four years ago by the Russell and District Horticultural Society and has snowballed into a unique celebration of local food and young entrepreneurs.
“Honest – it was started by a bunch of gardeners,” says Lindley Mcphail, the 66-year-old president of the horticultural society. “Part of our mandate is education and protection of the environment, so we started this thing. We thought it would be a one-off, but it just became wildly successful and sort of knocked us off our feet. Now people start asking about it in August.”
The first year, the fair had 38 exhibitors and about 600 people showed up. Last year, there were 61 exhibitors and more than 1,000 came. This year 90 exhibitors have signed on – everyone from George Wright and Kim MacMullin with their organic grains to Daizy and Jonny Näf, 30-year-olds who have gone back to land to grow organic greens – and Mcphail says they’re hoping for 1,500 to attend.
“I like food and I want to know where it came from and I want to know what the animals were fed and how they were looked after and how they were killed,” says Mcphail. “I think a lot of other people are starting to feel the same way.”