For as long as the Pacific National Exhibition has been in existence, the 4-H Festival has been a part of it. For over a century, the Fair has welcomed over 450 youth each year, from clubs across the province, to participate in its annual 4-H Festival. The 4-H program aims at educating youth about farming and agriculture through hands-on learning experiences. Beef & Dairy Cattle, Sheep, Swine, Poultry, Rabbits and Horses are all part of the program. Even Photography, Dog Obedience, Llamas, Mechanics and Electronics and Food and Crafts have found their way to stimulate the Head, Heart, Hands and Health of children for generations. Some alumni, yes I was a 4-H’er in my youth, are now the leaders and their children are continuing the tradition.
The 4-H Festival begins before the PNE opens, with participants arriving on the Thursday evening and exhibitions, stalls set up and shows beginning in the historic Agridome on the Friday. It’s not all fun and games at the PNE, the kids and parents work long hard hours keeping their animals and stalls kept up and on display for the public. Interacting with the public is a highlight of the Fair as it’s a chance for the 4-H members to interact and show off their knowledge and animals to the public. The public get to experience a close up look at a variety of animal husbandry, in the spirit of the Fair, bringing the Farm to the City.
For many of the children with market animal projects, the annual 4-H auction represents the culmination of a year of hard work and dedication. The 4-H’ers spend the year learning important lessons in agriculture, including the costs of raising an animal from birth, and the profit made through sale at the end of the year. Support from local individuals and businesses that attend the annual auction are integral to the success of the 4-H clubs and the future farmers. Tuesday’s 2012 auction saw 153 animals up for bidding, including 43 swine, 27 lamb and 83 beef, raising a whopping total of $415,575.
Congratulation go to the Grand and Reserve Champions of each category for bringing in remarkable totals from their animals.
Beef Champions: $10,772.50
Grand- Quentin Jones, Mission 4-H Beef Club
Reserve- Paige Thompson, Abbotsford 4-H Beef Club
Lamb Champions: $2,263
Grand- Megan Blaschek, Yarrow 4-H Lamb Club
Reserve- Sean Hope, Langley Lamb & Woolcraft
Swine Champions: $1,290
Grand- Leia Spencer, Pitt River Lamb and Swine
Reserve- Andrew Graham, Lower Mainland Cattle Club
Next year, when you visit the Fair at the PNE over the opening weekend, remember to take a walk through the barns and ask the 4-H members about their projects or even to get up close to their animals, they’ll be glad to help.