The Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFE) is a non-profit organization established in 1924 to represent a broad spectrum of fairs from small community rural fairs, such as Russell's, to large exhibitions such as the Canadian National Exhibition which is celebrating 135 years since it first opened its gates in 1879.
Membership includes provincial associations that represent agricultural societies from across the nation, like the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (OAAS), industry service providers and affiliate associations who have a direct interest and link with the Canadian fair industry. The CAFE is funded primarily by its members. The OAAS is made up of 15 districts, which "through promotion, communication and educational activities provides leadership to its members." The Russell Agricultural Society (RAS) belongs to District 1 with Carp, Richmond, Spencerville, Shawville and Metcalfe.
All in all, the CAFE is there to provide leadership in the growth and stability industry and to foster its stability and wellbeing, according to the CAFE mission statement.
In supporting those members, CAFE holds a conference and general meeting in a different locality each year. The Ottawa Valley's Fairs will be hosting the three-day conference this year at the Delta City Ottawa in November. A variety of sessions and speakers are planned, including closing keynote speaker, General Rick Hillier, Former Chief of the Defence Staff for Canadian Forces, who will speak on Leadership in Tough Times, at the Canadian Experimental Farm and Museum. A trade show has also been organized in partnership with the Ottawa Valley CAFE committee which includes Judy McFaul of Russell. McFaul is the Agricultural Director for District 1 of the OAAS, along with Homecraft Director Cheryl Sullivan, of Metcalfe. Also on the committee are RAS director Theresa Wever and Metcalfe Agricultural Society Administrator Meredith Brophy, who has been past president of the OAAS.McFaul was nominated for an OAAS director position and accepted because she felt it was time to move on to new challenges and to share her experience from the RAS to help other societies.
Taking on the reins as President of the RAS in 2006-07 after spending a number of years on a variety of committees, McFaul began her RAS career when Mike Bols asked her to help with the cattle committee -- her background is in showing and judging heavy horses. She is one of the founders of the RAS-sponsored Ladies Night and was also the driver behind getting the demolition derby to the Fair in 2006 after seeing it at the Merrickville Fair. But McFaul has not left completely. She can still be found behind the scenes organizing the Agri-Village with committee members Suzanne Perras Campbell, Beth Ruiter, Wendy Achtereekte, Lois James, Lorraine Robinson and Debi Bennett, the Gates committee and outdoor attractions.
Due to national, provincial and local societies looking out for one another it is no wonder that agricultural fairs and exhibitions have extended their stay in our communities past a hundred years. The associations not only provide an educational platform to teach communities about our agricultural landscape but provide opportunities for communities to celebrate and share in the harvest of their successes.