OAAS News – Canadian Lakehead Exhibition (CLE)

~ August 7th to 11th, 2024  

The Canadian Lakehead Exhibition (CLE) is a renowned annual event held in Thunder Bay, Ontario, celebrating the vibrant culture, agriculture, and community spirit of the region. Spanning over several days typically in late summer, the CLE is a beloved tradition that draws visitors from across the province and beyond.

The midway at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition

At the heart of the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition is its rich agricultural showcase, highlighting the best of Thunder Bay’s farming and livestock industries. Visitors can marvel at impressive displays of cattle, sheep, poultry, and horses, as well as competitions showcasing the skills of local farmers in categories ranging from livestock judging to equestrian events. Agricultural enthusiasts can also explore exhibits featuring the latest in farming equipment, techniques, and innovations, providing valuable insights into the region’s agricultural landscape.

Beyond agriculture, the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition offers a diverse array of entertainment and attractions for visitors of all ages. Thrill-seekers can experience the excitement of the midway, with its exhilarating rides, games, and carnival fare. Families can enjoy live music, performances, and demonstrations throughout the grounds, while children can partake in interactive activities and educational exhibits designed just for them.

Nice Horse

One of the highlights of the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition is its focus on community involvement and engagement. Local artisans, vendors, and businesses come together to showcase their talents and products, offering everything from handmade crafts to delicious food and beverages. Community organizations also play a significant role, hosting fundraisers, awareness campaigns, and informational booths to connect with visitors and promote important causes.

In addition to its entertainment and educational offerings, the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition holds a special place in the hearts of Thunder Bay residents as a time-honored tradition that fosters a sense of pride and camaraderie within the community. Whether it’s participating in friendly competitions, reconnecting with old friends, or simply enjoying the festive atmosphere, the CLE represents the best of Thunder Bay’s spirit and heritage, making it an event not to be missed.

Night at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition

History of Agricultural Fairs

Fairs are almost as old as recorded history. There were two types of ancient fairs: trade shows and festivals. From the biblical “Fairs of Tyre” to Sturbridge Fair in medieval England, fairs were used as market places and carnivals. In the 1700’s the British crossed the agricultural improvement society with the traditional trade fair/carnival and agricultural fairs were born.

These agricultural fairs were transplanted to the colonies by the earliest British settlers. The concept of fairs soon flourished in agrarian North America. In Canada, the first agricultural society was formed in 1765 in Nova Scotia. Ontario followed suit in 1792 with the Agricultural Society of Upper Canada based at Niagara on the Lake. From the Ontario strongholds, the concept of agricultural fairs spread west with the first settlers.

After a few false starts, the system of agricultural societies and their fairs spread all over Ontario in the 1800’s. They were organized by county and township and at one time numbered over 500 in Ontario alone. While agricultural societies used many methods (of varying success) to improve agriculture and the rural lifestyle, they’re most enduring and endearing legacy was the agricultural fair. Industrial exhibitions and festivals came and went, but the fairs just carried on. Fairs soon became an ingrained part of Ontario’s (and indeed Canada’s) culture. They still are, in our society.

Ontario Fairs have changed since their inception, but they still carry on their mandate of promoting agriculture and the rural lifestyle.

Want to see modern tradition meet the modern world? Attend a fair!

Click HERE to visit the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition