Surprise, surprise

If putting on a fall fair wasn’t enough work, there comes the element of surprise.

Aberfoyle Fall Fair organizers learned for the first time in their 150-year history that they needed building permits for their exhibition tents.

It happened last Friday, hours before the site was ready to open. Needless to say there were some moments of angst, but hopefully no hard feelings in the longer term.

The fact is, once the township receives a complaint or inquiry about a legislated requirement they can’t ignore it. Should anything have happened on the weekend involving a tent structure, the township would have been culpable for not doing its job.

Arguably, the township was in some jeopardy by not being on top of the subject in that past. So, a lesson has been learned – no harm, no foul.

There are a couple of curious things to consider though.

What would prompt someone to lodge a complaint against a fall fair group?

Second, will the fees that have to be paid place an undue hardship on the agricultural society, which organizes the fair?

Over the years we grow less and less surprised at the willingness of the public or private citizens to stick it to a group over some slight.

Some place, somewhere, a legislative wrinkle can be found that can cause a lot of stress and expense.

As for the expense, we know fair societies are finding it tougher and harder each year to balance their budgets.

A few hundred dollars, or in this case over a thousand dollars,  is a tough pill. While we suspect MBA types will suggest an increase in admission prices will cover costs, fair boards play a delicate balancing act between being affordable to guests yet recovering some of their costs.

With the incredible entertainment offerings within an hour’s drive, most fairs have seen reduced traffic. Whether that relates to admission prices or a changing demographic remains to be seen.

For us, these fairs represent a cultural experience worthy of recognition by the local municipality.

Here’s hoping Puslinch Township, for starters, can find a way to ease the pain of permit costs for the Aberfoyle Fall Fair.

Going to pot

Eighteen years ago the movie Cash Crop was released – boy, how times have changed.

That movie was about a drug enforcement officer teaming up with the local sheriff to arrest desperate farmers in rural Pennsylvania  who were making ends meet by growing marijuana.

The moral of the story was to resist the urge to turn a quick buck.

Flash forward nearly 20 years and we have a prime minister dedicated to legalizing the drug, a premier happy to set up shops across the province to dispense it, and business people vying to grow it.

It’s a metamorphosis of government ideology and viewed as a legitimate investment for growers.

Even our old buddy deputy-mayor Ron Faulkner, who had a career in law enforcement, is on side with the proposition of a pot plant coming to Minto. Toronto’s former police chief Bill Blair, now MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, has much to say on the issue, being tasked with updating the marijuana file.

Insiders suggest to us there is a boon ahead for growers and farmers interested in cultivating cannabis. If the numbers translate as proposed, it could be better than dairy or feathers are currently.

Time will tell – give it another 20 years and see.