Helen Rice and David Presley presnt a cheque for $20,000 to the Kemptville Farmers Market

by Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Members of the Kemptville Farmers’ Market Board were very happy to receive an “extremely generous” donation from the Central Canada Exhibition Association (CCEA) on October 10. How the donation came about is a story that goes back decades. David Presley, the current (and soon to be last) President of the CCEA, spoke to the Times about the donation and the history of the CCEA which led to it. 

The Central Canada Exhibition, often known in Ottawa as SuperEx, was once among the top 10 major exhibition events in Canada. “Every big name that ever came to Ottawa came through the Exhibition,” David told the Times. The last big name show that the Exhibition brought in, as David remembers, was the Rolling Stones. SuperEx took place at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa, and was an annual event in August for 122 years (with the notable exception of World War II). But the event could no longer operate after being kicked out of Lansdowne Park by the City of Ottawa, and it was officially announced in 2015 that no further SuperEx events would take place.

David explained that, as an agricultural society, the CCEA must operate under the Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act, which states that when a fair or exhibition disbands, any proceeds must be donated to agriculturally-oriented organizations. After selling its assets, the CCEA was left with approximately $3,850,000 to give away. With the CCEA Board acting as trustee for the money, and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs making final decisions, many different organizations were slated to receive donations from the CCEA ranging in size from $10,000 to $600,000. Each of the 18 CCEA directors was allowed to assign one of the $10,000 donations to an organization of their choosing. Both David and another director, Kemptville resident Helen Rice, decided to allot their portions to the Kemptville Farmers’ Market, resulting in a total donation to the Market of $20,000.

Making the donation to the Market was a well thought-out decision by David, as North Grenville has always been a friend to SuperEx. When SuperEx lost Lansdowne Park, North Grenville Council was very eager to take over hosting the event, although another CCEA Board member shut the initiative down. David has also been attending the Kemptville Farmers’ Market with his wife for years, and wanted to give something back to the community.

Beth Tilbury of the Kemptville Farmers’ Market spoke to the Times about the Market itself. The Market, which Beth describes as “probably the best in the area”, is located on Sanders Street and runs yearly from mid-May until the end of October. It is open every Sunday from 12pm to 4pm. A rule of the Market is that all vendors have to grow or make what they sell. Beth makes and sells cupcakes, and she told the Times that the Market has bakers, crafters, a wool grower, a flower grower, many farmers (including those selling apples, maple syrup, and honey), and more.

This year, there will be two outdoor Christmas Markets: one in the last week of November, and the other in the first week of December. Beth made it clear that the Market follows all COVID-19 protocols, and that their customers have done very well at following the regulations.

The Market is extremely grateful for the donation from the CCEA. A sign will be affixed at the Market thanking the Exhibition for the donation, and ensuring that SuperEx is never forgotten.


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