Harvest Feast

courtesy of Bob Thompson, Rambling Feats Communications

Dinner for 300 people, are you up for it?  We’re getting ready locally for the feast of feasts.  Tons to do at a busy time of year, but it’s so worth it…

All food for the Feast is grown within 20 km of here, except the dairy and the cranberries, both of which do at least come from the Island, so are well within the 100 mile zone.  Actually the tea and coffee are not local either, though the herbal tea is, and the coffee is organic, fair trade, locally roasted.  I guess sugar isn’t local either, and there’s plenty in the pies….ok, enough, you get that it’s as local as we can make it, right?

I love this Feast, love what it celebrates, love the food, love the way it brings the community together.  Here’s a great article about it from the local rag.  The picture shows some of the Ag society members serving dessert last year (they guy in the check shirt serving blueberry crisp is my brother, who enjoys this feast as much as I do).   If you want a glimpse of the menu for this year, check out this link.

Yours truly will be helping out, as I did last year, with veggie prep at a local catering company’s kitchen the day before and helping break down tables and sort compost, pig scraps etc after the dinner.  Fun huh?  I’m happy to do it.   Last year, I got to take home a couple of quarts of leftover salmon chowder – my price went far above rubies with my husband over that one!

The Fair

…is over for another year. Around here, the fair rings out the old year and brings in the new. It’s a long weekend, because of Labour Day, and school starts the next day. It’s like a giant party celebrating the end of summer, and kids make the most of it.

Monday, 5 days before the Fair starts

Monday, midway trucks arriving

This was the 145th year for our fair, touted as the oldest continously held agricultural fair in Western Canada. It’s a big deal, too – upwards of 45,000 people go through the gates over the three days. It is run by the Agricultural Society, of which we are members, and it takes about 8 months to prepare for the 3 days. We do our bit on clean up work bees, selling raffle tickets, etc. Because we’re involved in Girl Guides, we also help out at the Scout/Guide concession booth, which sells hot dogs, hamburgers, beef on a bun, and corn on the cob.  But the fair also has a few paid employees who work year round to maintain the grounds, handle rentals, and keep things ticking over.  And many volunteers put in way more time than we do.

We all love the fair, my brother most of all – this year, as President of the Society, he spent all his waking hours up there, and we caught glimpses of him occasionally whipping past on his Kubota, on his way to solve some problem.  We always spend virtually the whole weekend up at the fair, coming home in the afternoon each day to cool off, rest our feet and do chores before heading up for the evening entertainment and some mini donuts.  We are able to do this because we live right across from the fair grounds. For most of the year, this makes for a very quiet neighbour with 70 acres of hay field across the road, and for three days of the year, it means dust, noise, garbage, mayhem and no taking our car anywhere, since the hour long traffic jam down the road to the highway will make it impossible to get home again. It’s a blast.

One of my favourites this year was the 4-H swine showing.  I know it wasn’t funny for the kids or the guys holding the boards, but seriously – showing hogs is not at all like showing sheep – the kid just has a plastic rod to guide the pig with, and a nail brush to scratch it’s back soothingly.  The judge just does his best to get a good look and/or feel of whatever pig is nearest him.  The guys with the boards try to help keep the pigs separate, and they break up fights.  Trying to get the pigs to leave the ring is just as good.

Another fun event was when we got over to the goat barn, and were just in time to watch a dairy class – about 15 goats (much easier to show than pigs -they wear halters and leads), and the judge made her pronouncements and then described why she’d placed them as she had – it turned out to be an udder class – they were only being judged on the quality of their udder, and her descriptions had me in stitches.  Ambling down the commercial section aka “huckster’s row”, we found a local plastic shop demonstrating a small greenhouse kit and a large row cloche, both made out of pvc pipes and clips and heavy duty plastic, and well within our budget.  One of the tents hosted local experts on various agricultural topics.  We sat in on the one by Mike Doehnel, an old family friend, who has become obsessed in adulthood with local grain growing.  Very interesting little talk, and when I checked out the link he gave me that tabulates the results of his seed trials, I was stunned by just how much work he’s done in this field.

Other things we took in:  Sheep shearing demo, 4-H cattle auction, highland dancing, chickens, eggs, jams, huge foot long green beans, an amazing honey bee display (I found the queen), llamas being led through an obstacle course, the lego entries in the junior section.  A Massey Ferguson 35 just like the one we had when I was a kid (this one was in better shape).  Old friends. Langos, hot dogs, strawberries, mini donuts.

Saturday, first day of the fair

Saturday, first day of the fair

Monday, three of us were working in the food booth, and I came home after my 5 hour shift almost unable to stand – plantar fasciitis is back in force.  With my feet up on a chilled rice bag, cup of tea in hand, I watched through the front window as dusk gathered, and the Ferris Wheel was slowly dismantled.  The midway trucks began arriving last Sunday night, started setting up on Tuesday and as soon as the fair closed at 6pm tonight, they started taking down.  By tomorrow noon there will be nothing to show the fair has happened except for the traffic trails all over the parking/hay fields.

And at tomorrow noon, both girls will be back in school for another year.  It was a great summer.