A man to remember Fair features four generations of the same family From Stanstead Journal, August 24, 2015
It’sMonday morning and the Ayer’s Cliff fairgrounds are buzzing with activity as volunteers work to get the campus ready for Thursday morning and the opening of the 160th Ayer’s Cliff Fair.
Members of the horticultural society are on the horticulture building, sweeping and dusting, washing windows and making repairs to anything that may require them.
In the chicken barn, 93-year-old Doug Johnston leans against a bank of cages, watching as people place feeding dishes into the chicken cages.
This is Johnston’s 76th year at the fair and he’s just thrilled about it. He’s has family showing in the competition. His daughter, Heather Cooper has flown in from Calgary to take part in the fair. She’s helping place the feed cups in the cages.
“I’ve shown just about everything you can here,” he said. “I’ve shown horses, cows, sheep, chickens, just not goats.”
Johnston is looking forward to the chicken competition this year. “We have 368 birds being shown this year,” he said. “We just finished putting all the tags up.”
One thing he is very proud of is that fact that there are 144 entries from youth under 14. Doug started the 4-H club in the area, leading it for 63 years. He helped teach generations of local kids how to raise and care for animals. Doug himself has a few chickens showing this year, as well as some vegetables that will be in the horticulture building.
Doug has been a perennial part of the fair. He’s been a director for longer than he can remember and has served as president four times. He helped build most of the building that sit on the fairgrounds. “The only ones I didn’t have a hand in building are the main hall and the grandstand,” he said. “They were around before I was.” This year his son Sandy is serving as president. What’s more, his granddaughter Stacey is also a director. She’s been busy getting the attractions booked and make sure things are organized for the opening.
He’s also proud to note that four of his great-grandchildren are showing birds at the fair. “One of them is nine years old,” he said. “He has 36 birds coming. He’s nine and he knows all about the birds and how to raise them.”
“We’re a very family-oriented fair,” said Stacey Johnston. “There are lots of activities for kids and adults.”
She’s pretty happy to be working with her father and grandfather on the fair. “When we were kids, we used to tag along and help out,” she said. “I remember that from the end of July, we traveled to four different fairs: the Sherbrooke Fair, the Cookshire Fair, the Ayer’s Cliff Fair, and the Brome Fair. Sometimes we went to Richmond.”