1853 – 1862
March 16, 1853: Beverly Agricultural Society organized at a meeting held at the Township Hall in Rockton
October 20, 1853: First Fair held in Beverly Township Hall
1854: The Society constructed the “Root House” with an entrance near Plastow Street. The building measured 48 feet by 18 feet.
1863 – 1872
1868-1869: The Society purchased land from John Clement (1804-1893) and constructed the Drill Shed (80 feet by 40 feet).
1873 – 1882
1874: Introduction of the Special Prize Department
James B. Plastow (1846-1894), a merchant in Rockton, sponsored a cash prize of $1 for best five yards checked or striped flannel for ladies’ dresses. Elizabeth Young (1837-1912) won.
Robert Evans (1842-1900), a seed merchant in Hamilton, sponsored special prizes equaling $9.00 for items such as largest Swede turnip, largest white carrots, and best fresh butter.
1877: The Society added a 10¢ entrance fee to the Drill Shed.
1878: After the 1878 Fair, guests and newspaper men gathered around Andrew Kernighan’s (1820-1913) table and agreed that the show should be called “the World’s Fair” since all the world comes to it.
1883 – 1892
October 13, 1886: At the Fair, Oak Hall of Hamilton sponsored a Churning Match for unmarried women under 25 years of age. The standard by which competitors were judged included quickness, cleanliness, and quality of butter.
Best Butter Making received a silver tea-service from Oak Hall.
1888: The Society reached 280 members and the Fair received 2,396 entries. They abolished the Drill Shed entrance fee and, instead, charged visitors at the entrance to the show grounds.
1890: The Society increased the admission fee to 25¢.
They introduced “Exhibition of Speed” with two sections: Special Trotting Race (open to the World) and Trotting Race (open to Beverly Township only). Fair-goers watched the events in the Horse Ring.
1891: The Society hosted the Fair for two days instead of one.
North Beverly and South Beverly competed in a Tug of War contest with William McClure leading the North and Alex Ironside leading the South. Twelve men on each side, best 2 in 3, First prize $6.00, Second prize $3.00.
1892: In Cattle, the Society added Class 16 “Holsteins” and Class 17 “Jerseys.”
1893 – 1902
1898: The introduction of Class 17 “Chickens.”
1901: The Fair hosted the 1st Baby Show. The single section called for babies under 12 months to receive judging at 3:00 p.m. on the second day of Fair on the band stand. Gurney Scale Co. of Hamilton donated the first prize of a household scale valued at $3.00.
1902: Golden Jubilee Year. The Society expanded the fairgrounds 2.5 acres east.
Organizers of the Horse Division added Class 6 “Champion Class” with two sections—one for best colt of the show, under 3 years old, any breed, and one for best horse of the show, shown in harness, or under saddle. The Canadian Bank of Commerce branches in Dundas and Galt donated the prizes of silver medals.
1903 – 1912
1905: The Society enjoyed the 1st Annual Oyster Supper for Directors and their families.
1907: The Beverly Agricultural Society changed its name to Rockton Agricultural Society.
1908: First year the Fair had a motto: “Knowledge & Mirth.”
1909: New Specials included one for the oldest lady who had attended every Rockton Fair since its incorporation, one for the two “finest looking ladies” on the fair grounds on Wednesday, one for the tallest man, and one for the tallest lady. The judging took place on a stand near the exhibition hall at 3 p.m., the second day of the Fair.
1911: Grand Sawing Contest occurred at 3:30 p.m. on the second day of the Fair.
1913 – 1922
1916: Society started charging a membership fee of $1.00.
Special for the Largest Family: Class 460 Special for the largest family, $10 worth of merchandise by The Right House, Hamilton. Will be awarded to the parents bringing the largest family to the Fair.
The Galt Reporter estimated that the World’s Fair hosted close to 10,000 visitors.
1919: Ticket sellers requested the construction of a small ticket office at the main gate.
Strong winds blew down the Drill Shed
John W. Cantelon’s (1872-1940) team of agricultural horses won Grafton & Co.’s Special prize.
1920: The Society rebuilt the Drill Shed.
Special Attractions included a Merry-Go-Round with up-to-date music.
1923 – 1932
1923: Poet Robert Kirkland Kernighan, also known as “The Khan,” attended the Fair this year.
1925: The Society devoted a section to The Junior Farmers, The Junior institute, and a combined class for “Junior Institute and Junior Farmers’
Wentworth Juniors’ Exhibit in Co-operation with the Rockton Agricultural Society, Entry cost 40¢
Junior Institute: Best Work Apron, Best Three Cans of Fruit (raspberries, cherries, peaches or plums), Best Layer Cake (light, 2 layers), Best Lemon Pie, and Girls’ Driving Contest.
Junior Farmers: Dairy Calf Heifer (under one year), Beef Calf (under one year), Pair of Bacon Hogs, and Pair of Lambs.
Junior Institute and Junior Farmers: Three hens, heavy breed, and Three hens, light breed.
1929: New: Junior Department – “This is a department which we have created to make a connecting link between the School Fair and the Fall Fair. We hope that all School Fair exhibitors will compete and also those who have left the Rural School, whether they are at home on the Farm or attending Collegiate or High School, will become exhibitors at the World’s Fair, Rockton. From the experience that you have gained in the School Fair work we believe that you should be able to continue just one step further.”
Rules: The classes are open to competitors 17 years and under and there must be a membership in the family. Examples of Classes in the Junior Department included 2 pecks fall wheat, 5 barlett pears, layer cake, School lunch for one, one pound of maple cream, best collection of insects, boys riding contest, girls riding contest, strathcona exercises, and spelling contest.
1933 – 1942
1934: The name of the Society changed to the “North Wentworth Agricultural Society”
Construction of new gates, new entrances, and new Secretary’s office.
1935: The Society paid the $2.00 affiliation fee and joined the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (OAAS).
1936: The Women’s Institute started a display competition open to Women’s Institutes of North Wentworth. The display required, among other things, 1 cotton dress, 1 cotton quilt, 1 hooked mat of wool, and 1 pair of pillow slips.
1940: First year that a female was appointed as a Director in Charge of the Home Department, although a male director still sat on the committee. Rosetta (nee Mulholland) Jackson, wife of George Wellington Jackson, chaired the Food Division, Harriet Eliza (nee Plastow) Vansickle, wife of Sidney C. Vansickle (1873-1947), ran the Clothing Division, and Barbara Wray chaired the Homecraft Division.
1941: Cattle barns, and sheep and hog pens moved to the Centre Ring.
1943 – 1952
1943-1944: Society members organized a Ladies’ Division. Twelve “Lady Directors” including Sarah Thompson, Dorothy Jamieson, Rosetta Jackson, Cecelia Whetham, and Grace Harris. In April 1944, they selected Bella McDonough as President, Janet Shellard as Vice-President, and Agnes McKnight as Secretary.
1944: The Society purchased the Brousse and Miller properties, and the Elsie Henderson’s portion of property.
1945: Grandstand constructed (but not painted) for $1,222.51.
1946: Society members sponsored a School Fair and appointed a committee of nine and awarded a budget of $300.
1948: The Society constructed a new cattle barn (28 x 100 feet) for a cost of $1,830.
1949: The Society raised the Fair’s admission fee to 35¢.
1951: The Society hired Sammy Arrigo and Big A Amusements to bring 5 mechanical rides to the Fair.
General Admission Fee 50¢.
1952: The Society received the rating of Class “B” Fair.
Centennial Pylon erected to commemorate one hundred years of continuous service to agriculture and education.
1953 – 1962
1954: The Society constructed a new exhibition hall (later named the D. A. Campbell Building).
1959: The Society purchased the Charles McCormick property and used the land for parking during the Fair.
1960: The Board of Directors welcomed the President and Vice-President of the Ladies’ Division as members of the Board.
1961: The Society oversaw construction of another new exhibition hall (later named the Farm & Home Building).
1963 – 1972
1963: General Admission Fee 75¢.
1966: The Society, once again, changed its name to Rockton Agricultural Society (RAS).
They joined the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFE)
The first Fair Queen competition and they crowned Carolyn McDonald the winner.
1968: The first Pet Show
1969: Rockton World’s Fair awarded the status of a Class “A” Fair
1970: The Society converted the old Drill Shed into an educational display building
1971: Rockton World’s Fair now three days long.
1993 – 2002
1994: Fair became sanctioned by the “Great Pumpkin Association” as an official weigh-in site.
1995: First year Rockton World’s Fair was a qualifying show for the North American Six Horse Hitch Classic Series.
1998: New Eight Horse Hitch Display
2000: RAS Board hired Renate Intini to paint a mural on the Farm and Home Building in celebration of the new millennium.
2001: Further purchases gave RAS a total of 65.5 acres
Canadian Clydesdale Association pulled their sponsorship from the Royal and expanded into the Rockton World’s Fair (Ontario Regional Clydesdale Championship Show).
2002: The “Blue Building” became the “Youth & Agriculture Centre.”
Membership Fee $8.00
General Admission Fee to the Fair $8.00
2003 – 2012
2004: Organization of an education program to bring students from nearby schools to the fairgrounds: Agricultural Education Program.
First appearance of the Fair mascot Mr. Gobbles
2006: Completion of the new show rings and reception of names Beverly Heritage and North Wentworth Heritage.
2007: New grandstand construction completed before the Fair.
Membership Fee $12.00
General Admission Fee to the Fair $9.00
2012: New mission statement printed in the Prize list: “Committed to Agriculture, Education and Entertainment”
Rick Mercer attended the Fair.
2013 – 2018
2014: The last year of the Ladies Division. They turned over their financials, etc. to the general board.
2015: Solar panel construction completed in December.
2017: Canada’s 150th anniversary and RAS 165th anniversary
Annual Membership Fee $15.00
General Admission Fee to the Fair $15.00
1983 – 1992
1983: The Women’s Division introduced “The Meeting Place” where visitors could enjoy home-made pies and musical guests.
1984: RAS built a new pavilion for judging cattle: the Agridome.
1985: Ag-Alive started as demonstrations with farm animals and speakers on agricultural topics in the “Blue Building.”
1987: Membership Fee $4.00
General Admission Fee to the Fair $3.50
1990: First Antique and Hobby Show
1991: CAFE named the 1990 Rockton World’s Fair the Outstanding Local Fair in Canada.
1992: Membership Fee $5.00
General Admission Fee to the Fair $6.00
Ag-Alive moved to a tent and continued with daily agricultural demonstrations, such as cow milking and sheep shearing, during the Fair.
1973 – 1982
1973: General Admission Fee $2.00
1975: Jeanette Jamieson elected President, marking this the first time a female member became President of the RAS Board.
1976: Construction of a new chain link fence and a new five window ticket booth at the east entrance.
1977: 125th Anniversary
Membership Fee $2.00
General Admission Fee to the Fair $2.50
1978: First Dinner Theatre “Country Roads Jamboree”
1980: Construction of new building beside the old Drill Shed/Educational Building. Members called it the “Blue Building.”
1982: President Don Thompson cleared the wilderness-like area west of the McKnight house to create Thompson Lane, providing another entrance to the fairgrounds