If numbers are a measure of success, then the 1998 Hastings County Farm Show and Plowing Match proved it when a record 16,500 visitors attended the two-day show in August.
Noble Villeneuve, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs officially opened the farm show and praised organizers for their efforts in promoting the importance of the agri-food industry.
"It was the best one we've had and the most trouble free. Everything ran smoothly," says Jim Haggarty, farm show president. "The exhibitors were happy and the public was happy."
Understanding what farmers would like to see at a farm show helps show organizers live up to their slogan "Produced for farmers by farmers". The event showcases the latest farm equipment and other agricultural products while at the same time creating a social atmosphere.
"It's (the show) small enough that you can see people you know but also big enough that you have the latest equipment there," he says.
Haggarty also says he hopes the show presents the best of both worlds but with the emphasis on the business side of agriculture.
Over 200 exhibitors displayed their products to potential customers with several hands-on opportunities. Farm show organizers also planned equipment demonstrations to offer farmers a chance to critique new or up-graded technology.
Beth Wheeler of the Brighton OMAFRA office explained the how-to's of TMR mixing for livestock to several interested visitors. While
this technology is not new, its addition to the show was timely for area farmers not familiar with this feeding technique.
A woodlot located at the north end of the site presented the perfect setting for the newest addition to farm show activities. The Ontario Woodlot Association (OWA), in partnership with Domtar and local stewardship councils used the area for an outdoor classroom to make their display not only educational but interesting.
"OWA's displays and exhibitors and the on-site demonstrations drew a lot of interest from visitors," says Chris Lincoln, woodlot committee chairperson.
A cleared trail permitted a team of horses and their handler to demonstrate log skidding. Teamster, Art Shannon from the Lindsay area explained his reasons for choosing horses over mechanical vehicles for work in the woods.
Other demonstrations included the safe operation of a tractor winch and band sawing techniques.
Several displays offered a variety of information that could help farmers and land owners to make good management decisions and get the most out of their woodlots, whether it was making a profit with their woodlots or creating a wildlife habitat.
The woodlot committee plan to continue their presence at the farm show next year which will be hosted by George and Ena Palmateer at their farm near Tweed. The Palmateers crop up to 200 acres of their own and rent an additional 120 acres, planting corn, soybeans and hay. They also operate a 150 to 200 farrow to finish hog operation and raise purebred Simmental calves from their 30 head cow herd. In addition, the Palmateers do custom farm work for local farmers plus selling a line of forage equipment.
The 1999 farm show site was specially chosen to provide the municipality of Tweed Hungerford with an opportunity to promote the celebration of their 150th anniversary.
In addition, the Hastings County Farm Show and Plowing Match celebrates their tenth anniversary next year.
While the success of this year's farm show is gratifying, ideas are beginning to form on how to celebrate their anniversary, starting with a new logo.
In the meantime, Jackie Gunning, the show's first woman president will help co-ordinate the direction of the event for the next two years, says Haggarty. She operates a dairy farm near Tweed with her husband Jim.