Frequently Asked Questions

Caledonia Agricultural Society

1. Are you considered a service club?

The Caledonia Agricultural Society is a Non-Profit, community-based volunteer organization much like the Lion's Club, Kinsmen and the Rotary Club. With over 225 volunteers, we share our grounds, buildings, assets and volunteer labour with other service clubs, charitable and community groups. Most people don't know this fact: every agricultural fair in Ontario is operated by an "agricultural society" and most are over 100 years old. The term "society" is somewhat dated and today we would probably be called a "club" or "association."

2. As a for profit organization, your revenue does not go back into the community but into your own account, therefore why should I support this project?

There is a misconception that the CAS is a for-profit business. We are an incorporated not-for-profit organization, much like the Lion's Club, Kinsmen and Rotary Club. We have been incorporated since 1873 and are governed by the province under the Agricultural and Horticultural Organization Act. We own and operate the fairgrounds which are open to the public 365 days a year.

Most of our revenue is designated for the maintenance of the grounds and buildings, however, it also allows us to often reduce or waive rental fees for community or charitable events. This partnership means that both organizations are giving back to the community. For example, we were the site sponsor for the Cancer Relay for Life for several years. The "In Kind" value of our donation of grounds, tent, fencing, staff was $4500.

3. Who owns the Fairgrounds?

Many people think that the Fairgrounds are owned by Haldimand County. In fact, the Fairgrounds have been owned and operated by the Caledonia Agricultural Society since 1878. The Society is responsible for all maintenance and insurance. The Fairgrounds are open for public use 365 days of the year.

4. What other activities are the Fairgrounds involved in other than the 4-day fall Fair that would warrant such a project?

Most people are surprised to learn that the fairgrounds and old arena or exhibition hall are rented year-round. Events include 8 dog shows/tournaments each year, Jack and Jill dances, community fundraisers and events, car shows, trade shows etc. Every Good Friday, around 1000 people make their way to the old arena for an ecumenical church service. During the winter months, the venue has been home to the Hammer City Roller Derby Girls for the last 6 years.

5. Isn't the CAS an organization that is past its time in that agriculture isn't the economic driver it used to be in this area?

The face of agricultural has certainly changed and the CAS has adapted to these changes. Our emphasis now is not on agricultural competition but on agri-education. There is a growing interest in local food and where and how our food is produced. We provide a much-needed face to face connection between producer and consumer.

6. This is a Caledonia project and I live in Hagersville/Cayuga/Jarvis, so why should I support it?

The facility will be one of the largest open spaces in the area and will attract a wide range of events - much like the Ancaster Fairgrounds. The drive is much easier than a trip to Hamilton and parking is readily available. Businesses en-route will have an opportunity to take advantage of a new market of consumers.

7. What makes you think that there is demand for a year-round facility?

The CAS has been operating the venue since 2005 and the office has fielded calls for rentals since then. Calls indicate a demand for:
  • space to accommodate events requiring over 300-person capacity
  • dry land training
  • trade show space
  • venues for competitions (sports, dance)
  • large fundraisers
  • entertainment/concert venue

8. Will this still be a venue that is affordable to rent and accessible for all?

We have done rental comparisons with other local facilities and will be comparable. The CAS has always had a strong community connection and many events take place on the Fairgrounds at either no cost or at a reduced rental rate. The venue will be compliant with all accessibility requirements.

9. Hosting events year-round will create an ongoing parking issues for the nearby residents. What are the plans to address this?

Currently the Fairgrounds hosts events from April to November and most parking is on grounds. We are fortunate to have almost 9 acres available for parking on ground and are currently designing a parking plan. There will not be the parking congestion experienced during the Caledonia Fair. The Fair has attendance of approximately 25,000 over 3.5 days. The capacity of the new facility will be approximately 1000.

10. Does the Agricultural Society have a business plan in place for the new facility to ensure ongoing sustainability?

We currently operate the facility almost year-round and have a full-time manager who manages the Caledonia Fairgrounds and oversees bookings and operations. However, we have written a business plan to address the new year-round multi-functional facility and its long-term sustainability.

11. You say this will be an economic driver for the County but what economic development will it bring to the communities outside of Caledonia?

Our goal is for the venue to be seen as a County asset. Businesses and organizations in other Haldimand communities will have access to a larger facility for: large fundraisers, trade shows, symposiums, concerts, plays etc. Revenue from these events will benefit all communities.

12. The facility is referred to as the 'old arena' or 'exhibition hall' so it's confusing. What are the plans to rename the renovated facility?

Caledonia Fair uses the facility to showcase agricultural, homecraft and school competitions during the annual Fair and has always referred to it as the "Exhibition Hall." It became known as the "Old Arena" after the facility was decommissioned to build the twin pads on the south side of Caledonia. We are aware of the confusion and plan to christen the renovated facility with a new name once the project is complete.

13. Why are they investing money in such an old building rather than rebuilding a new facility?

The main building has a new roof with a solar project installation and is structurally sound. Constructed in 1971, it also has a unique cedar ceiling that would be almost impossible to duplicate. One other reality is that the current building sits on the flood plain and subject to the restrictions of the Grand River Conservation Authority.

14. Have you consulted current and future users of the new facility, or other similar organizations who have gone through this process to get their input on the new design?

A series of "Town Hall" meetings were held in March 2017 to gather ideas and information not only to assist in the design process, but in marketing the facility. The CAS has also consulted with other Agricultural Societies ie. Ancaster and West Niagara who have similar facilities, as well as several current and potential future users.

15. Are they going to be able to divide the large space into smaller sections for smaller groups and events?

The large space can be divided into smaller sections with drapery installations. There will also be smaller rooms available ie. Education Room with a kitchenette. When the full project is complete, there will also be a board room and an event room available on the second level (dividable with a capacity of 250) that will take advantage of a river view.

16. When will the shovel go in the ground and when is it expected to be completed?

The project will begin the middle of October 2018. If just phase 1 is being constructed, the completion date is anticipated to be May 2019; if we are able to complete both phase 1 and 2, the completion date should be July 2019.

17. How much will we need to fundraise before the shovel can go in the ground, and when will the renovations happen?

The Fair Board has mandated that the building renovations will commence only when 80% of the project costs have been raised. The renovations are presently scheduled to begin October 2018, however, it will depend on the pace of the campaign, the number of campaign volunteers and how quickly we can raise the necessary funds.

Building Campaign

18. What is the policy on how the funds collected will be held or invested until needed for construction?

All campaign funds will remain in our bank account and will collect interest until they are used for the stated intent. All interest earned on these donations will be applied back to the building fund.

19. Where will the financial support come from?

The Caledonia Agricultural Society has been in existence for 145 years and it is our intention through the building campaign to include all of the generations involved with the Agricultural Society past, present and future. We will also provide investment opportunities to local businesses, corporations, service clubs, groups and associations, as well as the general community. Certain foundations will also be approached for their support of the project.

20. What if the campaign does not reach the $3.6M campaign goal?

Under the leadership of the fundraising consulting firm Jones & Associates, a Community Assessment was recently conducted and it was established that the community is fully supportive of the project and the campaign. However, if we are unable to reach our campaign goal, the building plans will be adjusted accordingly or built in two phases.

21. How will other campaigns within the County affect the support for this campaign?

It was identified through the Community Assessment that there are no other campaigns currently in our area that may affect the support to our fundraising initiative and therefore positions us well to move forward now. Should the occasion arise however, we will work with these communities to ensure our mutual success.

22. How can the Caledonia Agricultural Society engage and draw support from all communities within the County?

It is important to the Campaign Cabinet to reach all communities throughout the County therefore every effort is being made to ensure a geographical cross section of the County is represented on the Cabinet and team of canvassers. This will also include representation from the various sectors that we serve.

23. Why hire a consulting firm to help us with the campaign?

This practice is consistent with the approach taken by many other organizations as we do not have the internal expertise to run a campaign of this size. Professional fundraisers provide extensive experience in conducting successful campaigns. They are instrumental in guiding organizations through the challenges of raising significant funds including volunteer recruitment and motivation, building and maintaining campaign momentum, and developing strong fundraising strategies to ensure the fundraising goal is met. Through their objectivity they are able to recommend the best course of action for the benefit of the organization and successful outcome of the campaign.

The Caledonia Agricultural Society has contracted Jones & Associates, a fundraising consulting firm, because of their extensive experience with building and capital campaigns and guiding organizations through the campaign process.

24. How is the campaign progressing? How much has been raised?

The Campaign Cabinet and Canvassers are working diligently to raise the funds as quickly as possible. We have received heart-warming support from those we have visited thus far. We will be making an announcement as to how much has been raised once the campaign has reached 60% of its goal.

25. How will the project be communicated to the community?

All communication channels will be maximized during the campaign to ensure the community and our Fair members are kept current on all activities including the progress of the building project. Updates on the campaign and the project will appear in local media, our website, Facebook, Twitter and through e-blasts as well as a monthly campaign newsletter.

Gifts to the Campaign

26. I'm finishing a pledge to another large project so can't give this year.

A pledge can be made today with payments to start at a future date: next month or next year possibly. The campaign is seeking pledges to run for up to three years, five years if necessary, but will make special considerations on an individual basis - whatever works best for you. We can accept a signed pledge now and send a reminder at the appropriate time.

27. When will I receive my charitable tax receipt?

Charitable tax receipts will be issued in immediately upon receipt of the gift or pledge payment. For multiple gifts or pledge payments made throughout the year, a cumulative tax receipt will be issued.

28. May we give different amounts in different years for our pledge payments?

Yes. A flexible payment plan on a pledge to the campaign can be created to best suit the financial situation of each donor. Therefore, each pledge payment can be of a different amount in any given month or year throughout the pledge payment period. The suggested pledge period is three years, but this can be adjusted to the financial situation of the donor.