By Adam Brazeau
AVONMORE, ONTARIO – An authentic burst of country life was alive in the air as aromas of fresh-baked goods, hay and farm animals swirled about at the Avonmore Fair.
Tractors. Vegetables. Horses. Quilts. Home crafts. Forage. And of course, calf patties – were on display at the 153rd celebration of agriculture.
“Attendance looks pretty good, especially since the weather changed,” said Roxborough Agricultural Society (RAS) past president Bryce Robinson.
This year, the RAS –who are in charge of the festival, opted for inflatable rides instead of mechanical ones to offer small children a chance to play and reduce the fair’s costs.
Another difference in 2013 is family entertainment. Instead of motorcycle stunt driving, they had Rideau River Dock Dogs – a canine aquatic competition.
An important event, the 4H Open Calf Rally, saw competitors from eight counties, ranging from Frontenac, SD&G and Grenville.
The rally has two components: showmanship (the calf’s handler) and confirmation (the calf).
“Confirmation is like a beauty contest for a calf,” said fair volunteer Nancy Wert.
Ready to put his calf on display, Kristian McDonald (10) of Ottawa relished the opportunity to compete with other counties and regions.
He said the competition was hard, but he managed to get second place in the novice showmanship section.
Robinson noted that the 4H Open Calf Rally was a great warm-up before many of the calf handlers hit Newington and other county shows.
The fair opened with a speech from Ontario Queen of the Furrow 2012-13 Sara Little. For a year, she has been traveling the province promoting agriculture.
“For a small town, this is amazing,” said Little, who lives in Mitchell, Ontario.
Riding her horse, Doc, Rachel McWhirler (17) showed that talking to horses works much better than yelling.
McWhirler was one of several riders, known as, “The Young Horse Whisperers” during a performance from the Spirits in Unity 2013 tour.
Through a diverse mash of relationship-based learning horsemanship and riding programs, McWhirler stood beside the one-ton animal and softly spoke commands.
Doc followed accordingly, with grace.
“I’m honoured to be here,” she said. “You can find yourself working with a horse.”
McWhirler mentioned her and her fellow whisperers are performing at Upper Canada Village all Labour Day weekend.
For Sierra deVries, winning first place for singing in the ‘tiny princess’ division of the talent show was a lock.
“It was a piece of cake,” said deVries.