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After more than a century, Sundre’s fall fair continues drawing out plenty of entries

Annual event originally started in 1918 as a way for teachers in Sundre to showcase their student’s projects

SUNDRE – A local tradition that originally got started more than a century ago as an opportunity for teachers to showcase to the community their students’ talents by putting on display their best school projects seems to have bounced back from the pandemic doldrums better than ever.

“It’s bigger this year than it was last year,” said Sundre resident Annette Rose, who for the second time volunteered to serve as a judge in the annual Sundre & District Agricultural Society School and Adult Fall Fair.

Rose was among numerous volunteer fair judges who on Friday, Sept. 8 were joined by accompanying score recorders at the Sundre Curling Rink, which hosted the fair’s community component. Members of the Bergen 4-H Multi-Club helped set up the rink while volunteers from the Sundre 4-H Multi-Club pitched in to take down everything afterward.

Both River Valley School and Sundre High School also hosted their own fairs, with student works from the 2022-23 academic year on display at each school.

At noon, students in kindergarten to Grade 2 who were so inclined also got a chance to participate in the pet parade, which featured a dozen dogs as well as one chicken, said organizer Lorene Caukill.

There were also nine entries in the pet obedience category, which this year included students in kindergarten to Grade 5 and offered the participants a chance to demonstrate that their dogs are able to respond to basic commands such as sit, stay or shake a paw. In the pet tricks category, there were eight entries with participants showing off their canine companion’s ability to, for example, fetch and jump, said Caukill.

And in the livestock classes, there were five entries under fancy chickens, with two by the names of Silkie and Jade tying for first. Additionally, a hen named Storm ended up winning the light laying hen category that had four entries, she said, adding there were no entries in the horse or goat categories this year.

Adrienne Beck, an organizer with the community fair, which is presented by the Sundre & District Agricultural Society, was pleased with this year’s showing.

“It turned out that we had more people participating than ever before,” she said. “Both student entries and adult entries were up in terms of number of people who are participating.”

The number of entries in adult art, photography, and horticulture was outstanding, she said, adding a couple more tables had to be brought out to accommodate all of the horticultural displays.

“The quilts have been amazing,” she added.

Providing some historical context, Beck said the fair’s origins date back to 1918 and began as a way for teachers to showcase the work of the students from the year before.

“Throughout the year, they would collect the best examples of the students’ work and they would put it on display in September,” she said, adding other teachers would judge one another’s classes for impartiality.

Those roots grew and the fair eventually evolved to encompass the entire community, she said.

“It was developed into a community event where it became the local fall harvest fair,” she said, adding there is now both the school components as well as the community event at the rink that also includes youth entries in a variety of categories ranging in everything from horticulture and baking to art and photography.

“You don’t have to have a green thumb or be a canner to be involved. There's so many different categories,” she said, adding there’s something for just about everybody regardless of age.

To throw in an entertaining yet rather random element, organizers also put on a special competition called the salt lick sculpture that involves a participant going out into their pasture to find the most uniquely-shaped animal salt lick, which can end up taking all kinds of “really weird and wacky shapes,” she said.  

“It’s just kind of a fun little novelty thing,” she said.

Once the judges were finished and the rink was opened up to the public, there were also a couple of demonstrations including a farm-to-yarn display that showed all the processes involved from shearing an animal such as a sheep, lama or alpaca, all the way to spinning it into yarn, she said.

There was also a live display that was brought by another community member who was demonstrating an operational, antique sock-making machine, while a table featured the talents of some remarkable residents, including a 96-year-old who still does all her canning, she said.

But although the number and quality of entires certainly help determine the fair’s overall success, the event itself would not be possible if not for volunteers and the community’s support.

“We have had so many donations from the community,” said Beck, who also praised the helping hands who are willing to get involved.

“We have an amazing group of volunteers.”

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Sundre District & Ag Society School and Adult Fair 2023 prize winners

Student categories

Horticulture: Ryatt Stringer 

Industrial Arts Grade 1-3: Aubrey Mikal

Industrial Arts Grades 4-8: Alyssa Seidel

Industrial Arts Grades 9-12: Sadyn Stringer

Baking: Finn Dube

Handicrafts Grades 1-3: Aubrey Mikal

Handicrafts Grades 4-8: Alyssa Seidel

Art Grades 1-7: Jillian Dumas

Art Grades 9-12: Sadyn Stringer

Photography Grades 1-7: Ryatt Stringer

Photography Grades 9-12: Sadyn Stringer

Adult categories

Horticulture: Kim Dawson

Domestic Products: Jacki Easy

Baking: Sherry Stringer

Sewing: Pamela Hengen and Christine Watson (tied)

Quilting: Christine Ferguson

Group Quilt: James River Sew & Sews

Crochet: Linda Toews

Knitting: Linda Toews

Needlework: Evelyn Mills

Hobbycrafts: Lena Toews

Art: Dax Stringer

Photography: Adrienne Beck

Seniors: Joan Dixon and Linda Toews (tied)

Overall High Point Winner: Sherry Stringer

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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