Putt, putt, putt, putt… the tractor strains to pull the ever heavier load. Perched on the rusty steel seat, the farmer in blue jeans and straw hat stretches to pull the lever on the old John Deere one cylinder model. The crowd cheers, protected by umbrellas and plastic covers. A little rain doesn’t stop the old timer’s tractor pull at the Westlock County Fair, held August 20 – 23, 2010.
In the show ring beside the tractor pull, horse and rider proudly show off their skills, donning yellow slickers to keep dry. In another show ring carefully groomed cattle stand by their owners, waiting patiently for the judge to choose the champion.
I take my company to the exhibition, where I’ve entered some photos. Two sport the red second place ribbons. I’m happy – there’s some excellent competition. On the table beside are vases of perfect zinnias and marigolds. Styrofoam plates show off six green beans, or four potatoes grown and prepared by children, or ambitious adult gardeners. We check out the lavishly decorated birthday cakes. Chocolate fudge and cookies remind us we’re hungry and we head for the concession stand of the local Youth for Christ group.
There’s hardly a larger town in rural Canada that doesn’t hold a fair during the summer – often beginning with a parade down Main Street. There’ll be a rodeo, baseball tournaments, a midway, and exhibitions of arts and crafts and the best the garden and kitchen can offer. Some of my nieces and nephews make their best money of the summer at the fair.
Agriculture fairs are held all over the world. Many of our farm friends in Zambia take part in the big fairs at Kitwe and Ndola, using the opportunity to showcase their products and to win prizes. Others are there to offer farmers new ideas and technologies. Stanley Ngulube first heard of and bought Moringa seed at the Ndola fair.
The Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC) is a confederation of leading national Agriculture Show societies all over the Commonwealth. It encourages the interchange and development of sustainable agriculture, forestry, fishing and the rural environment throughout the Commonwealth, working with and through the leading national Agriculture Show Societies. (www.commagshow.org)
Members come from developed and developing countries alike – the Calgary Stampede, Northlands of Edmonton, and the Canadian Western Agribition are members, as is the Agriculture and Commercial Society of Zambia.
Every second year, the RASC holds a big show and conference in one of the participating countries. This year it was in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2012 the show will be in Lusaka, Zambia. I plan to be there!