By the mid-1930s space was becoming cramped on the Egmont Bay church hall grounds. The Exhibition was attracting fairly large crowds and the number of exhibits was continually increasing. The time had therefore come to consider the possibility of expanding the exhibition grounds by purchasing a piece of land opposite the church hall on the other side of the road, although some of the directors thought the lot was not big enough. The other option was to purchase a four-acre parcel of land in Abrams Village which would be more central, especially for those coming from Mont Carmel. However, this idea did not appeal to everyone because such a move would mean losing the advantage of land and fine buildings currently available at low cost. The move would implicate the Association in new responsibilities and increased expenses.
The government’s offer was hotly debated during a special meeting of the Association held on July 18, 1938. Despite the strong majority vote in favor of the government’s proposal, several directors continued to campaign against moving to Abrams Village. At a subsequent board meeting they agreed to bring the issue back for another vote at the next annual meeting, which was brought forward several months to October 25, 1938.
The subject then underwent further lively debate, followed by a ballot in which 20 members voted for the proposal “that we should forge ahead” and ten opposed.
The directors and other members of the Association immediately set to work to prepare the new site in Abrams Village. They relocated the old courthouse which was not far away, next to the cheese factory where the apartment building now stands. They also built a fairly spacious building to house the crafts, baked goods, and flower exhibits.
Inevitably, with these new facilities, the 1939 Exhibition attracted a big crowd and caught the attention of the press.
The number and caliber of exhibited horses, however, made the greatest impression. That same year, on the initiative of the secretary-treasurer, Charles M. Arsenault, a great novelty was introduced into the day’s program – a horse-pulling competition. As soon as it was introduced, the horse-pull was a hit with the public and became a – if not the – major attraction of the Exhibition. As the number of farmers declined, however, and particularly as horses were abandoned in favor of tractors, trucks and cars, the Exhibition discontinued the competition in 1961 due to fewer and fewer horse entries. But, despite all, love of the horse was not lost, and soon a number of Islanders turned to horse breeding just for pleasure. Thanks to this renewed interest, the horse was restored to its place of honor at the Exhibition during the 1970s, to the extent that they were able to reinstate the popular horse-pulling competition in the 1983 program.
Cow-milking was another competition introduced into the 1944 program by Charles M. Arsenault. This competition offered prize money to those who succeeded in getting the most milk per minute from a cow of their choice. The contestants were divided into two classes: one for those over 16 years of age, and the other in which youth from 10 to 16 years could show off their skills. This competition was held annually until 1980.
The move to a more roomy site not only allowed the Association to add new activities such as these competitions, but also provided the opportunity to increase the number of classes in the various divisions of competition. In fact, the total rose from 223 in 1938 to 244 in 1940.
On the other hand, maintenance of the new land and buildings brought increased costs. It was therefore necessary to find a way of increasing revenue, either through a more generous government grant or improved receipts on Exhibition day. The directors were even willing to reconsider allowing games of chance on the grounds, something they had resisted for many years. At a meeting held on September 4, 1941, they voted on a motion to ask the government to increase their grant by $50. The motion also made provision for the approval of games in case the government did not come through. A few weeks later, the secretary advised them that no reply had been received from the Minister of Agriculture. As a result, they unanimously agreed to allow games and immediately appointed a committee to make the necessary arrangements. These games made their entry into the Exhibition’s program in 1941 and, in that first year, contributed a total of $13.99 to the day’s revenue.
The directors quickly realized that the receipts from the games were not enough to solve the revenue problem and they would have to find some other way, such as attracting a larger crowd to the Exhibition. Some directors suggested adding at least one new attraction each year, like a contest. Other directors felt more publicity was needed, while yet others believed the fair was held too late in the year. At a meeting held in 1947, Pierre Gallant maintained that more entertainment should be offered. “The event is too quiet,” he said. “We need more amusements.”