The thumping sounds of a helicopter echoed across the fairgrounds in Ormstown, as the second edition of the Livestock Breeders Association of the District of Beauharnois’ (LBA) Fall Festival landed an exceptional weekend of exciting activities heralding the changing seasons and a successful harvest.
On the grounds, visitors were able to challenge their sense of direction in a giant corn maze, before testing their nerves in a haunted house in the Industrial Building. Helicopter rides offered stunning views of the Valley just as the leaves were beginning to show their colours, and there was no shortage of agriculture-themed fun and activities for those who preferred to stay grounded.
The event got off to a start on October 1 with the inaugural Harvest Classic weigh-off, which is now a recognized competition in association with the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth. Renowned local growers, including Harley Sproule and Jim and Kelsey Bryson, were able to see their efforts pay off in front of a hometown crowd. Both fell just short on the scales, however; the first-place pumpkin and squash were grown by Tod Kline from Shawville, whose gigantic pumpkin weighed in at 1,636 pounds. His gargantuan squash was later skillfully carved into the shape of a dragon by artist Alex S. Girard.
“I think we are on to something big here,” says LBA manager Sue Morison, noting that in its second year, the festival has already taken on a much bigger significance with the addition of the pumpkin weigh-off as well as 4-H shows and cattle and rabbit exhibitions. The corn maze and haunted house were popular, and will remain open on weekends with special events leading up to Halloween.
“Each year we are going to gain value with what we are trying to do here,” she says, explaining that while some activities were less well-attended, they will serve as lessons for building an even better festival next year. Morison says the event has also opened a door for more people to become involved with the LBA.
The Temple Grandin conference to launch the festival on Friday evening was also a huge success, drawing a sell-out crowd of 400 people. And, just prior to introducing Grandin, the LBA and main sponsor Desjardins announced nearly $665,000 in funding for the creation of the Centre Agri-Culture Center, a bilingual centre for expertise and training in sustainable agriculture, agritourism, and food processing. The centre will be supported through the Desjardins’ GoodSpark Fund, which supports community-based initiatives and projects across the province, and the seven Caisse Desjardins in the Montérégie-ouest region.
“The Centre Agri-Culture Center project is special in nature, as it combines the environment and socioeconomic development,” says Sébastien Maisonneuve, the general manager of the Caisse Desjardins du Haut-Saint-Laurent. “For the region, this project will represent a definite addition to the socioeconomic vitality, notwithstanding the positive impact on farmers, producers, and businesses locally and across Quebec.”
The president of the LBA, Mark Anderson, says the Centre Agri-Culture Center will be a beneficial addition for the organization, which is already working in collaboration with farmers in the region. “Being a partner of Desjardins gives us major financial leverage to revitalize our organization’s site and thus provide quality support to agricultural entrepreneurs,” Anderson says.
The centre will offer training and conferences on diverse subjects. It will also allow the LBA to focus on upgrading buildings and facilities while continuing to expand its range of activities.