Common sense and connections
This year’s edition of the Williamstown Fair looked radically different than previous incarnations.
It sounded different and it smelled different too.
That’s because there was no mechanical midway. There was no Ferris wheel to light up the sky at night. There were no showmen (they don’t like being called carnies) urging daddies and boyfriends to pony up five dollars for a chance to win a two-buck stuffed animal. The smell of candy apples was absent.
That’s because the St. Lawrence Valley Agricultural Society, the organization that oversees the Williamstown Fair, elected to go with an inflatable midway this year. Its reasons were wholly financial; it simply couldn’t afford the asking price of the fair’s longtime midway provider. Instead, the society hired Runamok Amusements, an Ottawa-based company that specializes in providing inflatable play structures. Apparently, the society was so pleased that it offered Runamok first refusal for next year’s Williamstown Fair.
If the society permanently replaces the mechanical midway with inflatable amusements, it will be a decision that is both frugal and optimistic. Frugal because – hey – it saves money. Optimistic because it presumes that longtime fairgoers can quickly ditch the emotional connections they have with Ferris wheels, roller coasters, and carousels.
And let’s not deny that there is an emotional connection. There’s a letter to the editor in this week’s News where a whole lot of people echo that very sentiment.
It’s hard to fault the St. Lawrence Valley Agricultural Society which, like every organization on Earth, is not made of money. Midways are fun but they’re not worth bankrupting yourself over.
Of course, it’s hard to fault the midway providers too. They, like a whole lot of other employers, suddenly saw a hike in expenses now that the minimum wage has gone up. Like everyone, they know that money has to come from somewhere.
And most of the time, it has to come at the bottom line.
Advice for political hopefuls
For the first time ever, I’m going to use my column to give some advice to a whole lot of people. That’s right. There’s about two dozen people out there who I am directly targetting with what comes next. Take it with a grain of salt if you want. I’m no Dear Abby. I’m no Anne Landers. I’m not nearly as good looking as those two. All I am is a small town newspaper managing editor who thinks he has a few pearls to dispense to the various citizens who are vying for spots on North or South Glengarry councils.
Soon, ladies and gentlemen, you will be invited to attend all-candidate meetings, which will give you an opportunity to meet the public and to discuss the issues.
Those last three words are important. Discuss the issues. Please do that. DISCUSS. THE. ISSUES. If you discuss the issues then voters won’t feel as if they’ve wasted their time and, perhaps more importantly, small town managing editors won’t get frustrated.
If you think I’m kidding, then you haven’t attended a whole lot of all-candidate meetings. At these affairs, each candidate is usually given about two minutes to make their pitch. So if you find yourself behind a microphone this fall and you’ve got a brief period of time to make your case, then make it. Please please PLEASE don’t do the following: - Talk about how much you love Glengarry. - Talk about how long you’ve lived in Glengarry (“I’m a lifelong Glengarrian” means absolutely nothing at these meetings.)
- Talk about how long your family has lived in Glengarry. - Talk about the business you operate. - Make meaningless broad statements like: “If you vote for me, I promise I will always listen to you and continue to make Glengarry the best place in the world to live.”
You know what? As a voter, I don’t care about how long you’ve lived in Glengarry. I care only about what CHANGES you will make if you are in office. If you think taxes are too high, SAY IT. If you think the water project needs to be scrapped or expanded, SAY IT.
If you think the township needs to build a landing pad for flying saucers, SAY IT.
In other words, talk about the problems and then tell us how you intend to solve them.
One of the best speeches I ever heard at one of these events was way back in 2003 when John Warden was first elected to South Glengarry council. He stood up at the old Martintown Community Centre and said the
following: “If elected, I will take money out of council’s pocket and put it back in yours.”
That’s all he said. Short and sweet and to the point. Here we are, 15 years later, and I remember his speech verbatim.
It’s frustrating for journalists to cover these all-candidate meetings when the candidates don’t discuss the issues.
The reason it’s so frustrating is because we want to be objective and spill an equal amount of ink on every candidate.
But maybe that’s not a realistic way of doing things. Maybe our stories should focus on the issues and maybe the candidates who refuse to talk about them should be ignored rather than highlighted.
It’s no surprise that our craft breweries aren’t giving standing ovations to the Doug Ford government’s reinstatement of the buck-a-beer policy. Both Beau’s Brewery in Vankleek Hill and Rurban in Cornwall have long prided themselves on being producers of quality beer. As such, buck-a-beer has no sheen for them. If the government announced that motor vehicles could cost a base price of $5,000, we’d hardly expect Ferrari to stoop to that level. They would understand, rightly so, that some consumers will pay a little extra for quality.
So power to Beau’s and power to Rurban and let us hope for continued success to them in this new era of cheap beer.