Outdoor fairs encompass so many quintessential things about summer; games, ferris wheel rides, cotton candy, and local communities coming together to celebrate the season.
And enough with the excuse that fairs are just for kids; everyone can have an awesome time enjoying the food, atmosphere, and taste of local culture that fairs provide.
Right here in La Belle Province, there are tons of summer fairs to attend, and peak fair season is fast approaching. Many of them are super easy to get to from Montreal, so if you've exhausted the plethora of things to do in the city, consider road tripping to a summer fair - I mean, the opportunity to eat candy apples only comes once a year.
1. Expo Lachute Fair
Photo cred - Expo Lachute Fair
When: July 7th-10th
The Lachute fair is a huge event that has been going on since 1825 - it's actually the oldest fair in Quebec, and the second oldest in all of Canada. All this to say, they don't hold back when it comes to a grandiose county fair; parades, car derby expositions, farm animals, horse shows, and so much more. Take part in history, and attend this tried-and-true summer fair.
2. Expo Trois-Rivières
When: July 7th-16th
I mean, if there is an image that encompasses the ambiance of a county fair, it's this one. With awesome rides, crazy BMX biking demonstrations, and local agricultural fare available, it becomes clear why this fair draws a large crowd year after year.
3. Saint-Hyacinthe Agri-Food Fair
When: July 26th-August 6th
Any fair that is explicitly described as a food fair sounds like my heaven, honestly. This fair is only a 30-minute drive from Montreal, providing the perfect opportunity to toil away a few hours on a summer afternoon or evening. While there are different events all day long, the food is obviously the highlight here, so time to indulge.
4. Coaticook Valley Fair
When: August 4th-7th
Derby Demolitions are the speciality at the Coaticook fair, and they don't hold back when it comes to the demonstrations. You are sure to be entertained here, and if for some reason the crazy cars fail to impress you, the food and agriculture surely will. Apparently, ice cream and dairy products from Coaticook are to die for; I'm not sure why, you'll just have to see (or, you know, taste) for yourself.
5. Expo Quebec
When: Mid-to-late August
If there is anywhere in Quebec that can put on the most incredible summer fair, it's Quebec City. This fair welcomes up to 350,000 visitors a year, and it's truly the most wonderful way to celebrate the closing of summer. As one of the most popular summer tourist destinations in all of Canada, the grandeur, entertainment, and pure, unadulterated fun that this festival brings is unparalleled.
6. Brome Fair and Festival
When: September 2nd-5th
The Brome fair is impressive on so many fronts: between crazy tractor and truck pulls, and concerts that turn out huge crowds, this fair is equally family friendly as it is a good time for young people. Show up for the rides, stay for the lively atmosphere.
7. Shawville Fair
When: September 1st-5th
Ok, so years ago I heard a rumour that you can get deep fried Mars bars at this fair. Did you hear me correctly? Deep. Fried. Mars. Bars. Although this festival is close to Ottawa, where I hail from, I never got the chance to fact-check this coveted piece of information. So please, if you can, go and verify that these Mars bars exist. Take a photo, send it to me, and I'll cry of jealously.
Bonus: Vankleek Hill Fair
When: August 18th-21st
Although Vankleek Hill is actually in Ontario, it's very close to Quebec, and this fair is definitely worth a venture outside the province. While offering all the great classic fair experiences, Vankleek has its own unique identity that shines through in all aspects at this event. This town is the home of Beau's, an amazing craft beer that gets tons of love and attention at the fair.
If you can't make it to Vankleek's summer fair, not to worry - they have an Oktoberfest every year, which is actually takes place at the end of September. Beer tents, traditional German costumes, delicious food, and more Beau's beer on tap than you can imagine. Whichever fair you decide to attend, this little Ontario town packs a serious punch when it comes to good times.