RCMP Musical Ride coming to Leamington



By Pat Bailey

A fair that is older than Canada itself will mark its 170th birthday with a special taste of Canadiana.

This year’s fair promises to take fairgoers on a wild ride–a special ‘musical ride’.

For Leamington District Agricultural Society President Tammy Wiper it’s 10 years in the works but worth every bit of time and energy she has put in.

She grins from ear-to-ear, so excited, honored and proud to boast about this year’s special guests at the fair in June–the RCMP Musical Ride.

The agricultural society will play host to 32 horses, their riders, tack people, groomsmen and the rest of the entourage June 14-17.

The RCMP Musical Ride is a team of RCMP officers dressed in their signature uniforms (including scarlet tunics), the broad Stetson hat, atop their black horses– performing intricate figures and drills, choreographed to music.

It is a spectacle to behold.

And Wiper can’t wait.

She thinks it’s the perfect way to mark one of Ontario’s longest running fairs—with a group symbolic of Canada, dating back to 1874.

Leamington District Agricultural Society President Tammy Wiper shows of a piece of memorabilia from the RCMP Musical Ride’s last performance in Leamington in 2000. (Photo by Pat Bailey/Southpoint Sun)

She also believes it’s a great inexpensive way for local residents to see the RCMP riders in action.

Wiper said for the mere cost of admission to the fair ($7 for adults, kids 12 and under free), fairgoers will be able to witness this beautifully choreographed performance. She said there will be two performances – one on June 16 and one on June 17.

The groundwork, preparation and welcoming of these ambassadors of goodwill might be overwhelming for some, but Wiper welcomes the challenge.

She may not have a large team, but her core group of 22 board members, are up to the task she said. Wiper said she’s got a hardworking group—willing to help out in any way they can.

She said, in her case, the tenth time was definitely the charm.

Wiper said since becoming president 10 years ago she has tried every year to lure the group to Leamington. Each year she received a similarly disappointing email– that Leamington just didn’t fit into their tour plans.

In fact, it’s been 17 years since the RCMP Musical Ride performed in Leamington. The team graced the fairgrounds in 2000, co-hosted by the agricultural society and Leamington Kinsmen.

This year’s affirmative email elicited a rather childlike response from Wiper and her helper Jen Robinson.

“We were jumping for joy,” she laughed, “like two little kids.”

Since her initial reaction, Wiper has been busy hosting Marc Dureau, tour organizer, to make sure the group is prepared to host such a major event.

Wiper said officials were impressed with the Leamington facility and the group’s presentation.

Fortunately, as hosts of Standardbred racing, Wiper said many of the requirements are already in place but admits she will be looking for volunteers come spring.

“There’s a lot of work involved,” she admitted, “but it’s so worth it.”

“We are just thrilled,” she added, “to be able to present something so historical and so Canadian.”

Plans are still in the works, but Wiper said there is definitely one group she wants to invite as her VIPs—local veterans.

“This is something they would like to see,” said Wiper, “and it’s the least we can do to honour those who have sacrificed so much for us.”

She’s also sending out an open invitation to residents from throughout Essex County to make the trip to Leamington to witness this spectacular equestrian display.

This year’s fair will take place June 15, 16 and 17 and promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Wiper said the barns will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., those same days, for fairgoers to tour.

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