Old-Time Country Fair

Last weekend, during a beautifully warm late-summer day, on a small plot of land next to an ancient country graveyard in Tremont, NS the Tremont World's Fair took place.  This isn't the usual "Ex" as you might imagine - midway rides, games of chance and oodles of fried food and sodas. Nope, it was a real country fair, such as I've never experienced before - old-timey, with cattle, horses, 4H kids, vegetables, fruits, pies and crafts.  I'm not sure why, but I didn't think to bring my real camera. But I'm glad I had my phone to record at least some of the day's events.

The graveyard on the hill behind the old Baptist church.

Hay judging. 
Red ribbon goes to the highest quality bale. All four of these were second cut, mixed grasses.  I'd like to watch the judging some time and learn how they judge quality. They were all very fragrant - you could smell them as soon as you walked through the gate.

There were competitions for all kinds of fruits and veggies, floral arrangements, jams, jellies, honey and pies!  There were competitions for sewn wearable garments, rug hooking, all manners of crafts, photographs, many mediums of art and children's creations - including art work and LEGOS!! I kicked myself for not taking photos of the amazing Lego entries!  All of the children's entries were wonderful and it's so nice to see kids participating in the community event.

Dairy cows wait their turn to be judged - this girl was entered in a contest whereby her udder was judged. I can't remember the specifics, maybe "largest udder" "Best Shaped" "Most Cowiful"? I can't remember. But what I do recall is how perfectly content these girls were to  rest in the shade and chew cud!

Younger Holsteins waiting their turn in the ring. They were all so very placid, waiting, chewing, waiting, chewing.  For dairy breeds we saw Holsteins and Jerseys. Meat breeds included Durhams, Herefords and Angus (Black and Red).

Dairy Showmanship - Over 21
These were my favourites to watch - The Showmanship classes.  These are some dairy breeds being shown in the Over 21 category.  Most competitions will have several categories for younger folks, think 4H, to participate.  But this category is for adults who want to show their calves and judges them on how their cows respond to their handlers - if they stand nicely, how they walk, trot and turn.

Beef Showmanship - Over 21
See that guy on the right? He won every event in which he entered, with every cow.  All of his cows also won every event in which they were entered - regardless of handler. 

Young oxen wait their turn.
In Nova Scotia, ox and horse pulls are a big deal and part of every fair. These guys are likely yearlings(ish). There were three weight classes for oxen. I cannot remember specifics, but it was basically divided by age - young, middle age and mature oxen.
Head yokes also seem to be the norm out East. I'm not sure if this is the French influence, but out west oxen were very rare and usually shoulder yoked.

The big guys wait in the shade for their turn. I took a picture of him because his horns point almost directly down. Because each yoke is made to fit a specific animal on a specific side, this yoke would be somewhat unique. His partner is obscured behind the trees directly above his shoulder.  
Can you see the brown longer horned guy in the back? Its amazing that the horns don't interfere with one another when yoked together!

Ah! The main event - the horse pull. Here the tractor loads 100lb "logs" of concrete onto the sled. I wish I could give you details about team weight, poundage pulled, ratios of pulled weight to horse weight, etc, but I just didn't keep track of that info. But this is how the pull is judged - whoever has the most weight pulled per horse pound is the winner.  Like the oxen, the horses have several different categories graduated according to weight.  These Belgians were the only team I got to watch because mechanical issues forced the pulls to be delayed. I had to get back to make supper!

This team quite easily pulled 1400lbs. Another component of the competition is length - not only does a team have to pull the weight a specified distance, but the teamster also has to plan and control their animals because they only have a set distance in which to pull as much weight as possible. For example, this team has to pull this weight a minimum distance for the pull to count (I think it's right around 4'), but the teamster doesn't want his team to pull too far, because if they are a big strong team, the driver will want them to pull as much weight as they can before they hit the end of the course.  Make sense?

I have now been to two fairs in the Valley and I really enjoy watching people of all ages, body sizes and abilities participating.  It wasn't just young, slender young women riding their perfectly groomed and finished imported European warm bloods - it was older/younger (there was a three year old girl on her pony with her mom leading!), slender/stouter, warm blood/draft cross... every body on every type of horse and participating in everything from the cross cut competition (cutting a log using a two-person saw) to the Farmer's Race (running through various farm-related chores like carrying water, moving bales, etc, all whilst wearing comically large overalls).

Coming from the prairies, I tended to think of agricultural events as white, wealthy, male activities.  But here the emphasis seems to be on the animals and food, not gigantic machines, robots and huge farming "systems".  Perhaps there are those kinds of expos here, too, but probably not in the Valley as there just isn't the same emphasis on enormous farms.  But I was happy to see people enjoying themselves, having friendly competitions, visiting with both farm neighbours and the person sitting next to you.  Everyone from all walks of life and abilities participated in all these events and it was refreshing!

A good time was had by all!

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