The Second World War (1939-1945) caused some disruption to the organization. Farmers were extra busy because labour was scarce. Many young men had enlisted in the armed forces or had found employment in war-related industries off the Island.
As a result, the board actually considered cancelling the Exhibition during those years. The question was addressed in 1942 and put to a vote. The majority of members, however, appeared to take the same view as Adrien Arsenault, that the event should not be cancelled even for one year, “because once you stop,” he said, “it will be hard to get it going again.”
Families running small farms struggled in the post-war years. Lack of resources to adapt to the changes imposed by modernization forced many of them to abandon farming, with direct repercussions to the Exhibition – exhibitors and livestock both dropped in numbers. This forced the Association to revisit the idea of opening up the Exhibition (until then restricted to people from the parishes of Egmont Bay and Mont Carmel) to a wider area.
This issue had already been discussed in relation to government grants during a special board meeting in 1934. The government gave them to understand that it might consider doubling the grant, or even more than that, if the Exhibition would extend its territory.
At the special meeting held February 26, 1947, the Exhibition Association members voted unanimously to open up the territory. Despite the unanimous vote, some directors still wavered. In fact, the discussion continued on at the directors’ meeting of March 13. For example, Joseph P.A. Arsenault from Abrams Village declared that he “was not in favour because the farmers from outside the area are at a greater advantage in caring for their animals,” while Edmond Bernard from St. Phillip reported that people from his village were against the project. On the other hand, Lucien Arsenault from Mont Carmel said he was in favour of expansion “but not in favour of including lot 17.” He added that the additional competition would force the local farmers to better prepare their animals for exhibition. In the end they decided to open the Exhibition to the whole of lots 13, 14, 15 and 16, and that part of lot 17 located west of the St. Eleanors Road. This would exclude the town of Summerside and some farming villages in lot 17.
Even so, the expansion did not take place immediately. It was finally carried out in 1949 after the local member of Legislature, Wilfred Arsenault, managed to obtain an increase of $500 to the Exhibition’s annual grant from the provincial Department of Agriculture.
The issue of extending the Exhibition’s boundaries even further, in the hope that this would attract more exhibitors and larger grants, returned to the table in 1959. Compared to the other exhibitions, the Egmont Bay and Mont Carmel Exhibition was not faring so well from the Province’s annual grant allocations. In 1960 it received a grant of $1,200 while the Alberton and Crapaud exhibitions received $1,750. The directors therefore made a greater effort to attract and provide comfortable facilities for livestock exhibitors. In 1957 they constructed the first of several livestock barns.
At the 1962 annual meeting, the members agreed to extend the boundary to include lot 1 to 12. This area now encompassed all that part of Prince County west of the St. Eleanors Road.
Even Then, the issue of opening up to the whole of Prince County was not completely forgotten, and returned periodically to the fore. It should be pointed out that, during the 1960s, something of a rejuvenation occurred within the Exhibition Board of Directors, who proved themselves to be more open to major change. Louis Cormier, a dynamic young farmer who was elected to the Board in 1962, came to play an important role in the organization’s development. In 1964, Charles M. Arsenault, who had been secretary-treasurer since 1929, retired. His successor, Cyrus J. Gallant, wrote in 1967 to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Stewart C. Wright, for advice on expanding the Exhibition to the whole of Prince County. In the same correspondence he asked the Department for a sum of menu to supplement their annual grant. Despite the fact that, in the previous year, one of the Department’s employees had suggested to the Board that it should open up the Exhibition to the whole county, the Deputy Minister was reticent on the subject. His reply well reflected the current thinking of some of the Acadian Exhibition’s directors and friends:
I would not like to see your Exhibition extended if it were going to make it more difficult to get your people to exhibit at your fair. I have always felt that the Egmont Bay Exhibition was unique in that it gave your people in that area an opportunity to exhibit their wares and I am wondering if something of this would be lost if you extended your boundaries.
But it was quite clear to the Board that something had to be done to ensure the Exhibition’s survival. Despite expanding the boundaries kin 1962 and constructing several barns, they had not succeeded in attracting a sufficient number of livestock exhibitors, while local interest continued to decline. At the 1968 annual meeting, Louis Cormier pointed out that the prize money offered in the livestock competitions was not high enough to compensate the exhibitors for their commitment of time and labor in preparing their animals and bringing them to the showgrounds. He also remarked “that the show isn’t exciting because there isn’t enough competition.”
Louis Cormier’s demonstrated interest in the future of the Exhibition won him the chairmanship at the 1969 annual meeting, and a young teacher and university graduate, Raymond Bernard, took over as secretary-treasurer. Both men came from the village of St. Phillip where, as youngsters, they had been active members of the 4-H Club and regularly showed at the Exhibition. This youthful duo led the Exhibition through an important transformation, beginning in 1970 when it was opened up to the whole of Prince County.