Mommy, mommy, you’ve gotta see this!
Mommy, mommy, come over here!
The little girl, probably about three, was thrilled by the sight of a chicken at the Salmon Arm Fair. It wasn’t a cute little fluffy chick, but an older hen.
She stared silently at it for a long time, her admiration unmistakable.
It’s so adorable, Mommy, she said.
Not far away in the sheep barn, several groups were making their way through, reading the sheep’s names, patting their soft fleece, admiring them.
One boy made a comment about its softness, and the woman with him said, “That’s what your sweaters are made of.”
The animals were clearly a big hit and made an impression, mostly good it appeared, on lots of people who interacted with them. Adults were happily giving goats a scratch, while the goats revelled in all the attention.
While farmers and kids who grow up on farms already know all about growing plants and livestock, that’s not true of everyone. Lots of young people, for instance, grow up thinking their food comes from the grocery store.
Although Salmon Arm sits in an agricultural area and farmers are the experts in the value of agriculture, not everyone shares that knowledge.
The fair began more than a century ago with many of the goals it has today, I imagine. A social affair, a chance for people to compare and celebrate their best crafts, produce and livestock, an opportunity for fun and a break from the hard labour farming entails.
In 2018, all those benefits remain, but perhaps the fair’s purpose and benefits are more important than ever. I think of the little girl admiring the chicken – one she felt a connection with, one who she recognized as a living, breathing being, just like her. It would be hard for her to put up with the idea of the industrial farming of chickens, for instance.
At a time when the benefits of a 100-mile diet are well-known, and the need for land and living things to be respected is greater than ever, what better way to make this happen than for people to feel a connection to them.
Not to mention, the fun of the fair – and I’m guessing we can all use more of that.
Many thanks are due to all the people who put in such a huge effort for the 121st annual fair, and for all those wise people who have been making it happen for the past 120 years.