An expected 3,000 people will be making their way to Dundee this weekend for the annual Holstein Québec Picnic, set to take place on July 20 at the Ferme Nieuwenhof et associés inc. (Lareleve). This year’s event will mark the first time the picnic has been held at a farm with a free stall herd, offering visitors a chance to see the future of family-run dairy farms in action.
The planning for the event started three years ago when the local farm was selected to host the 2019 picnic. Lareleve proudly holds the title of highest milking herd average in the province for a free stall barn, so it was only natural that Holstein Québec would want to hold its first picnic outside a traditional tie stall barn in one of the finest examples of this new trend in dairy farming.
The picnic will also feature a few other characteristics specific to Lareleve. The entire event will have a beach theme, as the farm uses sand stalls for its cows. The beach theme is also in reference to the fact the Haut-Saint-Laurent region benefits from the highest accumulation of heat units each year, as the southernmost point in the province. The proximity to Lake Saint-François also played into the decision to refer to the picnic as a vacation on the farm.
The event is open to all, with a full day of activities planned, including a sand castle competition, dunk tank, corn maze, inflatable games, fireworks and a live performance by the band 4 Bangers. The day will also feature some of the finest food trucks from the region, a corn roast and a méchoui supper (by reservation).
The goal of the annual picnic is twofold: to bring together farmers from across the province and to invite the local community to become involved. “There are less and less people who have contact with the farm,” says Lareleve co-owner Benjamin Nieuwenhof, suggesting this does not apply only to those living in the larger cities.