After two years of difficult weather conditions, the Livestock Breeders Association (LBA) hit its groove this year with the third edition of its Fall Festival. Warm weather and sunny skies certainly helped, but the size of the crowds suggest this annual celebration of the fall season is catching on with Valley residents.
“It was a success,” says LBA general manager Sue Morison. “We spent all day outside and there was a steady flow of people enjoying the weather and the activities,” she adds, noting several visitors had paid attention to the activities available last year and they returned as participants for this edition.
For example, there were more entries in the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth weigh-off, including some giant pumpkins grown by area youngsters. Crowds gathered and stayed throughout the afternoon as huge pumpkins and squash were hoisted by forklift and weighed. Bursts of applause erupted every time a new score to beat was registered. Area experts Jim and Kelsey Bryson won the competition with their whopping 2,117-pound pumpkin, but only after surviving a scare as judges found a small split on the bottom of the gourd. The pumpkin was then hollowed out and dropped from between 100 and 115 feet with a resonating splat as part of another contest.
Visitors also cheered on four teams who participated in the inaugural Amazing Race activity. The competitors crossed under the fairground gates to arrive at their destination after racing through Ormstown to find clues and complete a series of challenges.
The arena was host to the HOB Holstein Club’s Fall Showcase cattle show, as well as a haunted house which received many positive comments from white-faced participants. Visitors were also able to enjoy helicopter and hot-air balloon rides on site, as well as inflatable games for kids, a spooky magic show, the corn maze, a selection of food trucks, beverages by area brewers, and a fully stocked farmers’ market.
“I think we should keep up the spirit of this Fall Festival. We can really grow this,” says Morison, who was visibly pleased with the event.
The “Farm Babe” stops by
The festival was launched on Friday with a presentation by guest speaker Michelle Miller, who is known online as “The Farm Babe.” This was only her second time in Quebec, and she spent part of the day visiting area farms before speaking to around 80 people in the Industrial Building that evening. Her talk, entitled Myth-busting the grocery aisle, aimed to debunk and demystify much of the misinformation that abounds when it comes to agriculture and its impacts.
A 4-H kid who found her way back to farming after a stint in fashion on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, Miller began to advocate for farms and farmers online. Her “Farm Babe” persona garners millions of views each week on social media, where she challenges common misconceptions about agriculture.
Her message to the farmers in the room on Friday was simple: agricultural producers are the best positioned to communicate about what they do. She provided some communications tips to reach consumers more effectively, noting how important it is to share positive messages about farmers.