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Our History

The Western Nova Scotia Exhibition is an unforgettable celebration, an event packed with colour, sounds, tastes and sights. Year after year, visitors from all over the province and beyond join us - and our community keeps growing. Learn about our rich history and how we got started over 160 years ago.

The Full Story

The Yarmouth County Agricultural Society was formed in 1842, and continued until 1849, with an annual membership fee of 5 shillings.  The Township of Yarmouth Agricultural Society was formed in Hebron in 1855 and held the first Agricultural Exhibition in Yarmouth on November 1st,1859. The Yarmouth Agricultural Society reorganized in 1867 and held its first exhibition in 1868 at Grand Parade and the Courthouse. Both societies held annual exhibitions for several years.

Growing in popularity, the County’s exhibition in 1870 had 309 entries. The Yarmouth Agricultural Society was incorporated in 1875, becoming eligible for an exhibition prize grant of $666.66. The 1880 exhibition had 1203 entries and an attendance of 5870 for the one-day event, it was held in the new skating rink that was rented to the society.

In 1882, the Yarmouth County Agricultural Society became a district exhibition covering the counties of Shelburne, Yarmouth, and Digby.

In 1893, the rink which housed the annual event was destroyed by fire.  The Agricultural Society immediately purchased land on the corner of Parade and Pleasant Streets and constructed a new building.  2 years later, a 2-day exhibition was held. The building was used as an armoury during World War I. Exhibitions were held throughout this time but on a reduced scale. Unfortunately, in 1939 this facility was also lost to fire, during World War II the exhibitions were more like a picnic atmosphere.

The Exhibition site on Starrs Road and Cottage Street was purchased in 1946. The arena was built in 1952 and other buildings soon followed including several livestock barns, fine arts buildings and space for commercial exhibitors.

In 1997, the Society sold its lands and buildings to the Town and Municipality of Yarmouth.  

In 2001, the Exhibition buildings were torn down to make way for the Mariners Centre, a modern complex with 2 arenas.  

In 2006, money was raised by the Society to help construct the Anthony Pavilion, a multipurpose facility which was to be used as a livestock barn during the Exhibition week. The Agricultural Society built portable stalls, that was easy to remove, so the Exhibition could have a place to house all the livestock shown during exhibition week in one barn.

In 2004, the Agricultural Society purchased a Cover-All building to house the Kiddie Farm.

In 2009, we celebrated our 150th anniversary with great demos, displays, and entertainment that provided a family fun atmosphere. We concentrated on the past compared to the present. Demos included ox yoke making, blacksmith, Ferrier, pottery, plowing, quilting, hobbies from the past, antique tool displays. We also brought in an extensive lineup of entertainment including the Barra MacNeils, Little Rays Venomous Animals, NASCAR Simulator, Nova Scotia Music Week Battle of the Bands, Scott Family Timber Show as well we held a Light Horse Clinic which was very well attended.

In 2013, the management of the Mariners Centre made a motion to eliminate the use of dirt inside the main building. The Agricultural Society and the Mariners Centre partnered together to enlarge the outside warm-up ring to 100 x 200. A separate ox hauling lane was also created so multiple events could be going on at the same time.

The Exhibition celebrated its 155th anniversary in 2014.

In 2017, the Agricultural Society bought 4 portable bleachers to help increase the amount of seating outside at the horse and oxen rings.  The bleachers are also available for other groups to rent them for their events as well.

2019 marks the 160th anniversary of the Western Nova Scotia Exhibition.

We were forced to not host an exhibition in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID public health restrictions.