South Shore Breaker
The Big Ex gearing up for 2022 comeback
For Tommy Mailman, it's the sights, sounds and smells that make the South Shore Exhibition a long-standing tradition — one he's looking forward to having again.
“The exhibition, to me, is it's a compilation of a whole bunch of stuff,” says Mailman, the exhibition's president. “First of all, it's the crowds of people. Secondly, it's the noise, in a good way. It's the ringing of the bells, especially the ox bells clanking, the flashing of the lights, the smell of French fries and fish and chip joints and cotton candy. It's the whole package.”
For the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the exhibition, or The Big Ex, was cancelled due to COVID-19. This is something that has only happened one other time, during World War Two, in the event's 131-year history.
Now The Big Ex is coming back, but with a twist: admission prices will be the same as they were in 2019.
“The board felt an obligation to make every effort possible to bring the people out and bring the people back together at the exhibition,” says Mailman. “This is because for many people, for thousands of people, it's part of their cultural history, it's one place that that we have in common, a night at the Ex.”
Along with the admission freeze, The Ex is also bringing back some fan-favourite events and programs, including Men of the Deeps on Thursday Night, ox and horse pulls and show horse events.
“Our objective is to bring in lots of entertainment
throughout the week,” says Mailman.
Country band Emerson Drive will be the headliner for Saturday, a performance
that was delayed due to COVID.
“We had them booked in 2020 and it took a long time to get them and then
of course that collapsed (due to COVID),” he says. “But we were able to maintain a connection, and they're all excited to get back on stage.”
As for Covid-related restrictions, Mailman says they will follow public health guidelines at the time.
“There's too many factors out of our control now, but I think we're no different than any other fair, any other exhibition starting up,” he says. “Until the confidence level is up, 100 per cent, that people are saying, ‘It's gone. This thing's gone, and we are prepared to go back and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my neighbour' and enjoy the exhibition, this is somewhat of an unknown … then there's the other problem: we can put a ton of work and coordination and booking into all of this and it only takes one announcement from public health and it's cancelled.”
Despite this uncertainty, Mailman is optimistic.
“Unquestionably, we draw the largest crowds and are most popular event (in the county) and have been for probably 131 years,” he says. “What we want to do is we want to see it go again.”
The South Shore Exhibition will be held July 26 to July 31 at the South Shore Exhibition Grounds in Bridgewater.
For more information, visit: thebigex.com/ or search the South Shore Exhibition on Facebook.