Fall Fun in the Maritimes

After a busy summer of traveling to 3 different continents and helping out at the farm with an outstanding harvest season, I was eager to start speaking (and blogging) again. Luckily for me I had been asked to travel to the Maritimes and speak at the New Brunswick Association of Fairs & Exhibitions annual general meeting. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by hospitable Canadian friends and I thought to myself that this was going to be a great next few days.

Do you have any childhood memories of going to your local fair or exhibition, maybe competing in a potato sack race or the egg in a spoon relay? Or how about trying to be the first to catch and win the greased pig competition? Ever enter some baking, knitting or art projects?

I was lucky enough to have experienced all of the above back in the day and what I am fond of most is that we had a ton of family fun. Wasn’t it nice that we didn’t have to drive too far or pay too much for a day’s worth of activities? I remember watching my parents compete in a farmer skills competition where among other things, they had to haul bags of wheat onto a pallet and roll a large round straw bale across the finish line. I also remember cheering at the top of my lungs for my parents and their friends Mike & Joanne Richter who competed together on a team.

After speaking at the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) convention in Las Vegas last year, Mike Vokey, executive director of the Fredericton Exhibition (FREX) insisted that I share some show inspiration to his colleagues in New Brunswick. I prepared a presentation titled “Empowerment, Engagement & Entrepreneurship within your Local Show Society”. In doing so I reflected on my 7 years of volunteering with the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC) and realized how diverse my show experience really was. I have attended agricultural shows around the world from the big city of Sydney, Australia to the rural landscape in India. Throughout this workshop I aimed to share my perspective and experience on: Empowering board members, staff, volunteers and the next generation through active leadership, Engaging community members and visitors through innovative ideas, and Entrepreneurship through building strategic partnerships and global networks. We discussed the challenges and successes of local shows today. I was happy to see the group take notes during our discussion and I encouraged them to welcome fresh ideas and involvement from the next generation. You’ll never know of its successes if you don’t at least try and who knows, maybe the future struggles of attendance or sponsorship will not be so challenging. Later that evening I presented an additional keynote address to inspire, motivate and acknowledge their dedication and hard work in continuing to organize local fairs and exhibition events.

The next day when I was walking along side the St.John River in Fredericton, I thought about how people today are becoming increasingly aware of their purchasing power and are choosing to belong to this ‘local’ movement. I strongly believe that the biggest opportunity for agricultural education and awareness is through something I learned a lot about in Singapore called ‘Agritainment’ which is the opportunity to ‘experience local’. If you’re passionate about rural life then I would encourage you to get involved in your local show society because the reward of sharing your ideas and stories will create an experience and leave an impact on the most unexpected visitor!

Enjoy this little collage of fall photos from beautiful New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in October 2013. (I hope to come back in summer time one of these years as I discovered that you can stay at West Point Lighthouse Inn AND enjoy a lobster party on the beach! I love it when I find something to add to my Bucket List.)

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Fun in the Maritimes
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