Column: From hot peppers to gigantic pumpkins: overseeing veggies at the Salmon Arm Fair

Friends and Neighbours by Leah Blain

Friends and Neighbours by Leah Blain

When Hanne MacKay was two years old her family left their native Denmark to begin a new life in Canada.

In leaving their country, Hanne’s parents left behind palpable reminders of the war where they heroically had helped the Resistance movement. They began their new life with little money but a lot of determination. They started in Ontario, then moved to Vancouver where Hanne’s father had a successful boat repair business.

In 1975, Hanne moved to Salmon Arm. She worked for the school district, teaching at Parkview and Salmon Arm West, and then as principal at South Canoe and vice principal at MV Beattie.

About 15 years ago, Hanne offered to take over as convener of the Salmon Arm Fair’s vegetable division. This was no small undertaking.

“I took over from Bert Revel who had been vegetable convener for over 30 years. Those were big shoes to fill, but he kindly continued to assist me. It’s the biggest division in the fair if you count every tomato,” said Hanne.

There were a couple of reasons Hanne was drawn to this division – her love of the fair and gardening.

“My grandmother taught me to grow tomatoes,” said Hanne. “It’s been a love of mine since I can remember. My mom was a gardener. All my family, aunts and cousins, love to be in the garden. Every spring I have to plant something. In this crazy world so many things aren’t dependable. If you plant a seed it comes up – it’s pretty dependable.”

Since Hanne took on the role as convener she has seen some changing trends in gardening.

“The interest in garlic and hot peppers and different varieties of peppers is growing, so I’ve had to change the catalogue to accommodate new kinds of garlic and peppers. We’ve got some great garlic growers.”

The years have not been without controversy in the vegetable division.

“We had a ‘biggest pumpkin’ category but we started injuring ourselves trying to move them. Once we had to get a forklift to move one… so we moved super-sized pumpkins to field crops.”

Read more: New attractions, rides and more lined up for Salmon Arm Fair

Read more: Music sets the stage for Salmon Arm Fair

Read more: Fair boasts attendance upswing

She likes to see produce, especially the tomatoes, come in and, after the doors open to the public, she enjoys watching the people’s reaction to the displays.

“It’s interesting to watch,” said Hanne. “I love hanging around when people come around to look at everything. The most beautiful display is the collection of 10 different vegetables. So much work goes into that.”

There are more than 100 classes and more than 1,000 entries. The fair gives local gardeners and farmers a chance for fun competition and bragging rights, but it’s much more than that.

“The fair is really community building. It brings the whole valley together, people are connected. When you enter in the fall fair you get to know your neighbours and it promotes food growers and local food security.”

With quirky sense of humour, she said she jokes with people: “With climate change we might add an entry for avocados – It’s funny but it’s not funny.”


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Okanagan and Shuswap blossom at Communities in Bloom awards

District of Sicamous, City of Armstrong double winners at B.C. awards gala; Lumby also a winner

Internet speed testing implemented in the CSRD

Test results will be tracked to find areas where improvement is needed.

Sicamous Eagles lose two on the road

Despite late offensive surges, the Sicamous squad came up short in Spokane and the Beaver Valley.

What financial commitments do you want from candidates running for prime minister?

As the federal election quickly approaches, the Observer took to the streets… Continue reading

In photos: Magician entertains in downtown Salmon Arm

Children of Salmon Arm were treated to the wonders of magician Leif… Continue reading

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

B.C. Lions hype-man marks 15 years of cheers

Crazy P cheers, chants, bangs his drum and spreads a message of love

Former South Okanagan resident found dead in Alberta

Candace Deleeuw was reported missing Sept. 16

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Latimer surveyed much of Summerland

Civil engineer was also responsible of community’s irrigation system

Caught on Camera: Boat catches fire at Okanagan marina

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, no injuries were reported as a result of the blaze

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Most Read