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let's talk farm animals

In praise of the Fall Fair

By Leslie Ballentine, Farm and food commentator

The local fair means more than just Ferris Wheels and Beaver Tails- they are also the chance for neighbour to meet neighbour and city to meet country.  They are a part of our national heritage and culture. Fairs have been organized in Canada by local Agricultural Societies for more than a century. Though fairs (and farms) do look different than they did 100 years ago, they continue to serve many of the same purposes.

Just as with farms, some fairs are small and some are large but they are all an annual opportunity to connect with farmers and food.

Even though agricultural fairs are held through-out the year, “Fair Season” begins in August and by the time the season winds up in November more than 6.5 million visitors will have attended a Canadian agricultural fair or event. Ten’s of thousands will have entered their livestock and produce in competitions, manned educational displays or joined in farm related competitions such as livestock shows, plowing matches or rodeos.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of different kinds of farm machinery and other marvels of farming technology will have been put on display.   Not to mention, every imaginable type of farm animal.  Millions of volunteer hours, 11 months of planning and strong community support is what makes these annual events possible.

By all accounts, the level of involvement and attendance proves their importance.  Along with farmer’s markets, agri-tourism and organized rural tours, the fall fair offers an opportunity for non-farmers and farmers to connect.  In our increasingly urbanized society this connection is ever-more important.

The local fair provides an opportunity for visitors (whether they be rural or urban, young or old) to engage in a direct conversation with those who know about agriculture—the farmers themselves.  Fairgoers also get the experience of seeing the close relationship between the farmer or 4-H kids and their animals.  Meeting farmers, interacting with farm animals, and getting the experience of doing farm chores such as milking a dairy cow or viewing a sheep shearing demonstration, can be eye-opening experiences for people who have never been to a modern-day farm.

The dedication of farmers and ranchers to their animals, to the land and to consumers needs to be shared. The agricultural fair is only one of many ways that this is being done today.

In this season of giving thanks lets not forget those who take the time to speak up on behalf of all the farmers and ranchers who feed us. Every one of these individuals makes a difference in sharing agriculture’s vital role in society. And lets not forget those 6.5 million people who help sustain the ongoing success of the fall fair.

Until the Next Blog


Posted by OFAC on September 26th, 2011 :: Filed under Consumers,Education and public awareness,Food,Rodeos
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