Callan Forrester and Sarah Rennie
Visions of the North Pole came to life on December 3 and 4 in Ormstown, as the fairgrounds were transformed by the merry elves of the Livestock Breeders Association of the District of Beauharnois (LBA) into a twinkling Christmas Village, complete with a giant igloo, winter fairies, and jolly old Saint-Nick himself. That old scamp of a Grinch could also be found skulking around, sniping at thrilled children and generally grumbling about the Christmas spirit on bright display.
The main buildings on the grounds were decorated with over 14,000 Christmas lights, and visitors were free to walk around and enjoy the festive atmosphere, made all the merrier by a dusting of snow. Children were able to mail their letters off to the North Pole, and those looking for gift ideas were treated to a market inside the slightly warmer Industrial Building, where they were greeted with hot chocolate and carols on the Friday evening.
“It went very well,” exclaims LBA manager Sue Morison, who says 1,013 visitors over the age of 12 attended the event. “We also gave away 800 candy canes,” she says, suggesting there was a significant number of smaller guests who enjoyed the festivities as well.
Morison, who looks remarkably similar to a certain Sugar Plum Fairy, says the best part by far was watching the children’s faces light up as they came onto the grounds. Just as magical, she says, was the incredible support the LBA received from sponsors such as the municipality of Ormstown and the Caisse Desjardins du Haut-Saint-Laurent, and from community volunteers who worked tirelessly to create the Christmas wonderland. “Everything you could see was all done by volunteers,” she says, from Santa’s mailbox right down to the intricate handmade costumes worn by the volunteers who greeted visitors on the grounds.
The opportunity to be in person with clients again was also really exciting for many of the vendors present. Sylvie Racette of the Microferme Retour aux Sources says that the looser regulations have definitely “made a difference in sales because people can come buy things again…We can see that people are happy to be able to take advantage of this new lifestyle.” A representative from Le Domaine du Paysan emphasizes the importance of these markets, suggesting that direct access to customers means more visibility and an opportunity to expand their reach.
“It’s about creating things for the community,” says Morison of the LBA’s drive to produce events at this scale. She admits she is looking forward to the coming year, noting the LBA is planning a full roster of events, including the return of Expo Ormstown. The Christmas Village will be back once again, and just this past week, the LBA announced that the keynote speaker at the 2022 edition of the Fall Flavours Festival will be none other than Temple Grandin.