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NewsVandalism is on the increase at the Fairgrounds

Vandalism is on the increase at the Fairgrounds

Over the past year the North Lanark Agricultural Society (NLAS) Board has been dealing with an increase in vandalism on the Fairgrounds in Almonte. Since last spring, several buildings have been broken into and trashed, graffiti has been sprayed inside and outside buildings, fires have been lit inside and outside the buildings and there has been damage to structures and the fields themselves. To date, the cleanup and repairs have consumed time and money. As many may know, the change house at the beach burned down last summer as well. The local OPP and the Hate Crimes Unit have been involved in investigating two of these recent incidents. The NLAS Board would like to emphasize that the Fairgrounds are private property but are a valuable asset in the centre of the community.

Grafitti on an interior wall. Obscenities have been obscured.

To combat this vandalism, the NLAS Board installed dusk-to-dawn lights on the grounds with heads adjusted to impact the community as little as possible.  Additional measures will also be taken to protect this valuable community resource. The Board would like to thank community members who have reported incidents to us and the police. We are asking for community support to help combat these crimes that indirectly affect all of us in Mississippi Mills.

Founded in 1858, the North Lanark Agricultural Society remains an important institution in Almonte/Mississippi Mills. The NLAS represents the important contribution of agriculture to the community.  Best known for the annual Almonte Fair, the NLAS is much more. It owns and operates the fairgrounds located on Water Street in Almonte, a popular community area which hosts the fair and many other events.  The grounds are private property but during the summer it is home to the free Almonte Beach and boat launch which are co-managed by the NLAS and the Town of Mississippi Mills.

Structures on the grounds include the lovely Agricultural Hall, which can be rented for weddings, dances, and other events.  There are a series of barns that are used during the Fair and for other events throughout the year. The wonderful grandstand is the oldest such wooden structure still used in Canada.

The NLAS is entirely run by volunteers, including a volunteer Board of Directors which covers a cross-section of the community.  In order to maintain the grounds, run the Fair, oversee and monitor other events and ensure the effective operation of the NLAS, dozens of other volunteers help out over the year.  The NLAS earns revenue from the Fair, bingo nights in August, hall and grounds rentals, donations, and grants. Almost no money comes from the taxpayer.

Members of the community, tourists and others enjoy the Fairgrounds property for swimming, picnicking, dog-walking, fishing, boating, (kayak, SUP and other) as well as during the organized events like the Fair, North Lanark Highland Games, BusFusion, bingo etc. The NLAS encourages this, but also notes that the grounds are private property and must be respected. The volunteers expend a lot of effort in maintaining the grounds with the help of the Town (lawnmowing, beach maintenance) and local contractors who provide labour and equipment for heavier work.

If you have any interest in renting the hall/grounds, volunteering with the NLAS or finding out more about us, please check out almontefair.ca.

Thank you,

The Board of the North Lanark Agricultural Society  
January 2024

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