ECFS an early sign of spring for Ontario producers

ECFS an early sign of spring for Ontario producers
Feb 03, 2023

East Central Farm Show kicks off on March 1

By Paul Nolan

One of the first signs of spring here in Ontario is when the doors open for the East Central Farm Show, running March 1 and 2 at the Lindsay Fairgrounds.

“In the past, we were always the first week of March; then came London, and then came the Ottawa show,” explains ECFS founder Neil Moore (photo below). “And that’s the way things are falling again this year.”

Moore expects over 150 exhibitors to set up in the Commonwell Exhibition Building this year (a few displays set up outside, “but it's a bit of a gamble with the weather”), with likely between 2,500 and 3,000 paid visitors making their way through the show. And ECFS doesn’t count exhibitors as attendees.

ECFS founder Neil Moore

The local 4-H club runs the food booth at the farm show, which goes from 9:30 am to 9 pm on the Wednesday, and 9:30 to 4 pm on the Thursday.

“There used to be a waiting list for exhibitors,” explains Moore. “But COVID ended that.”

As for crowds walking the show, the corn-and-soybeans producer says that “normally, the first day tends to be busier. On Day 1 we will often see 1,600 to 1,700 people. Then maybe 1,200 the second day.”

There’s about an acre of show under one roof at the current location, but it’s taken a few years to grow to this point.

“I started the show back in 1980, and we ran it in the Cambray community hall. We were able to get a total of 50 tables set up there, so we went with 50 exhibitors to start.

“Around 1990 we moved the show to Peterborough, and Jack Kyle ran it there for about five years. Then Getha Sherry ran it for about 10 years.”

Moore was eventually asked to oversee the show again. “I took it over again in 2007 and asked Don Oliver to help. We then moved to the Fairgrounds in 2008, and that’s where it’s stayed.”

So that would be some 44 years of heralding the spring season across farming country – if it were not for a pandemic hiccup.

Still, COVID-19 affected ECFS perhaps less than other events.

“In 2020, we managed to just get the show in, before the province shut down. We were the last farm show before Ontario shut down.”

And while the pandemic meant the 2021 event had to be cancelled, “we were the only farm show around last spring. We had it late, in April, but we had it.”

In fact, Moore explains that “the April show worked out last year, because we didn’t have the COVID health restrictions we would have had in March.”

Moore farms just east of Lindsay. He worked at OMAFRA until he left in 2000 to work as a regional communications coordinator with the East Central and Quinte Soil & Crop Region Improvement Associations.

“Eventually I retired from Quinte, and I’m still trying to retire from this job, every year,” laughs Moore.

“But they won’t let me retire and keep giving me the job back again!”

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