Constant vandalism forces Fairgrounds lock-down

A Plea for Help and Awareness

North Lanark Agricultural Society

Everyone knows where the Almonte Fairgrounds are. Not everyone knows they’re privately owned by the North Lanark Agricultural Society and we are a charitable organization.

We are a society that’s main drive is agricultural education and events but we also have many other things on our grounds, Weddings, Busfusion, Highland Games, and Car Toot Bingo to name a few. We enjoy having all these events on our grounds and these events are what enable us to pay our bills, do upkeep to our buildings and grounds, renovating the old structures and putting on the Almonte Fair.

The Almonte Fair is paid for by our society. We plan the fair for a year at least to put it on each July for everyone to come and enjoy the education, entertainment, fun and games. We work really hard to put this together and are proud of what we are able to do. Everything we do is run by a board of volunteers who take pride in the society and our grounds.

This being said, over the past few years we have spent a lot of time and money, fixing our buildings and grounds from damage done by vandals. There are break-ins to our buildings repeatedly. Once one building is secure again, they go into another one and then another. They break the seats of the grandstand to try and go inside, they try to kick in the doors and door frames. They steal property from some buildings and in other cases they are just hanging out smoking. Smoking doesn’t seem so bad, until you look at the fact these buildings are over 100 years old and could catch on fire in an instant, potentially hurting the people who snuck in, in tiny spaces.

One of our buildings did burn down as a result of vandals being inside it, this can happen even when they think they are being careful. When they aren’t in the buildings, they are smashing glass bottles on the grandstand, painting graffiti on the buildings, doing donuts with vehicles in the grass and smashing the windows out of our ticket booth. There is nothing that these people haven’t touched, broke or tried getting into. They even think its fun to turn our water taps on and walk away and recently people have been dumping their leaf waste in our stables. It is very frustrating and costly, when we as volunteers have to go and spend hours fixing problems rather then planning events. We are constantly spending money on repairs required as a result of vandalism rather than on the things that could better our society, grounds and community.

The problem isn’t the people walking their dogs on the grounds or going to the beach or boat launch, as part of the community we enjoy sharing the fairgrounds.  It’s the people, mostly teens that think it’s a party location, that no one cares what happens and they can do what they want. They are the people we have to stop, we can’t continue this way.

We need your help. If you go by the Fairgrounds and see people doing wrong, please call us or the police or if you feel like you can, say something to them. Almost everyone carries a cell phone take a picture and make an anonymous call to the police. The more people that can help patrol the areas in town that are being affected by these people, the easier it will be to stop them.

Not every kid is a bad kid or bad teen or adult, but some do make bad decisions. Not everyone walks around Almonte looking to break something so it’s not everyone and we know this, but the few people that are vandalising our grounds are affecting it for everyone.

Everything comes at a cost and it is with much regret that starting October 26th we unfortunately have to lock up the grounds. We need to try and fix this and right now it’s the only way. We have to stop the people coming in, in order to try and save our property. Next year, it will be open for the beach season, where we have a contract with the town of Almonte, but until this vandalism is over, that will be all we can do.

We are sorry for the inconvenience this might bring to the wonderful people who use our grounds and never harm it. Perhaps you can help find out who is doing this, maybe your kids know the people, or you have seen something happening there that wasn’t quite right or you’ve heard through the grape vine. Any information would be helpful and people looking out for us is a great help too. We try to be everywhere, but we all know that is not possible, it takes a village to make a community, right, and what better place to be is in Almonte.

Thank you for listening, we apologize for the inconvenience, but hopefully you will try to understand.