Harvest time

Kevin
Kevin Higgins
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Eastport Peninsula Agricultural Exhibition celebrates 24 years

The sandy beaches of the Eastport Peninsula are renown locally as a great place to spend a sunny summer day, however there’s much more history in the soil of the area than just for relaxing recreation.

For a long time, up until the 1960s, the soil of the Eastport Peninsula provided a source of income, as well as nutrition, for many families in the area. Families that worked the land hard to produce a variety of crops or raise animals — either of which could be sold or eaten.

However, it’s been a decades since local farming has played a large role in the economy or at the dinner table on the Eastport Peninsula, according to Art Bull.

“When you drove up the road in Eastport, it was all farms,” said Mr. Bull, referring to a time 40-50 years ago. “Some people still do it (farm), but it’s not like it was years ago.”

Despite this reduction, it doesn’t mean agriculture is completely forgotten in the region.

Actually, it’s taken a new life all it’s own, and, in a different manner, is still a major annual contributor to the area’s economy.

This year marks the 24th annual Eastport Peninsula Agricultural Exhibition, a 10-day event honouring the farming heritage of the area. It was re-instated in 2001 after a 61-year hiatus.

Mr. Bull, who chairs the organizing committee, said the exhibition originally ran from 1937 to 1950, and was funded by the commission government, before it joined confederation in 1949. After becoming part of Canada, the government changed, and funding for the agricultural exhibition stopped.

Uncertainty is not something that is in the mind of organizers these days, as the exhibition has annually experienced growth from the moment the Eastport Peninsula Agricultural Society brought it back in 2001 — a trend Mr. Bull expects will continue this year.

“I think this is going to be our best year yet,” said Mr. Bull, noting people attend from all across the province. “We’ve added a few more events this year, such as a giant bingo and yard sale, and I believe this will really attract more people.”

“We’ve added a few more events this year, such as a giant bingo and yard sale, and I believe this will really attract more people.” Art Bull

Mr. Bull said over the past number of years, the opening parade and craft fair are true signs of the interest in the exhibition. The parade has ballooned from just a handful of floats a couple of years ago to close to 30 last year, while the craft fair has jumped from 22 tables in 2001 to around 65 exhibitors last year.

Events began Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m., with opening ceremonies at the Beaches Heritage Centre. It includes the crowning of the harvest queen and honouring the fair’s patron.

Following the kick-off event, there’s nine more days packed full of activities, such as dinner theatres, potato bakes, pumpkin carving, soap box derby, gospel concert, pie eating contest, strongman/woman competition, dance, pet show, scavenger hunt, and courses and workshops.

However, the heart of the action doesn’t get underway until Oct. 7, concluding with Oct. 10’s closing ceremonies. According to Mr. Bull another highlight of this year’s exhibition will be a tribute to the firemen and women of the province, in particular those on the Eastport Peninsula.

“I’d just like to extend an invitation to everyone to drop out for a hour, day or longer to enjoy our festivities. It’s honouring our agricultural heritage, but what we do can certainly relate to the history of many areas of the province.”

To find out more details on the Exhibtion’s schedule go to www.beachesheritagecentre.ca/agricultural-exhibition.php.

info@ganderbeacon.ca

Organizations: Eastport Peninsula Agricultural Society, Beaches Heritage Centre

Geographic location: Eastport, Canada

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