In spite of a torrential downpour on move-in day and ongoing concerns about equine herpes, this year’s 4-H on Parade was a roaring success.
The buzz of laughter, enthusiasm, and impressive projects displayed by the more than 600 4-H’ers made the year’s biggest showcase of all things 4-H a pleasure for participants, spectators and auction bidders alike. “Right from the time they were moving in and setting up, there was a high degree of collaboration, co-operation and enthusiasm,” said event organizer Rob Smith, the 4-H Specialist for Calgary and Southern Region. “The participants, leaders and parents all committed to making it a success.”
Betty-Anne and Orik Gamble, urban retirees attending 4-H on Parade for the third year, agreed. “4-H on Parade is always fun, but this year seems especially high energy. The level of work these kids display is amazing.” said Betty-Anne. “It’s just wonderful to see the enthusiasm and hard work of these kids. It makes you believe there’s a real future for agriculture in this province.”
Held at the Calgary Stampede grounds, 4-H on Parade showcased the skills and projects of Calgary-area 4-H members. Competition throughout the weekend spanned from traditional 4-H (such as dairy, equine and cattle) to life skills-related (such as quilting, welding and photography) categories.
More than 1,200 life-skills projects were on display, an all-time high and up significantly from past years. Smith said the addition of a photo auction several years ago piqued the interest of kids who, up until then, had only been involved in more traditional 4-H projects.
“I think photography was the tip of that iceberg. Once non-life skills members got to express themselves in photography, that was the start,” said Smith. “These projects are a true window into the soul of those 4-H members.”
While Friday and Saturday are filled with fun, camaraderie and competition, Sunday’s auction is bittersweet for many of the 4-H’ers who are part of the beef and lamb sale. The promise of a hefty cheque is great incentive, but auctioning off the calf or lamb they’ve hand-raised for months can be difficult for many participants.
“Yup, this part is hard on me,” said Irricana 4-H Beef and Multi Club member, Amanda Hagel, leading her haltered steer, Big Red, towards the auction ring. She was hoping for $2.10 per pound, but having trouble thinking about the money as Big Red rubbed his forehead against her arm.
“I think it’s very fair to say that a fairly substantial number of the junior members struggle with the auction,” said Smith. “When you have a child and an animal that have worked together that much and created a bond, there’s a sense of loss.”
However, while that bond is important, “At the end of the day, what the 4-h beef and lamb members are about is creating food,” said Smith. “Our members do get that message,”
Once in the auction ring, Amanda put on a brave face, and Big Red showed his quality. The $2.80 per pound he eventually pulled for her should go a fair way in making this bitter pill a little easier to swallow.
While Big Red did well on the auction block, it was another burly steer that was the real star of the show. Chopper, at 1,077 pounds, was this year’s charity steer, raised by the Bow Valley 4-H Beef and Multi Club. Once again, 4-H on Parade event sponsor Encana proved its commitment to 4-H youth by purchasing Chopper for an even $10 pound. All of the proceeds from Chopper’s turn on the auction block went to STARS Air Ambulance. Bow Valley club member, Lindsay Van Veen, is gleeful about Chopper’s sale. “I’m very pleased. It goes to a great cause.” And, she says “No more chores!”
“It’sjustwonderful toseetheenthusiasm andhardworkof thesekids.Itmakes youbelievethere’s arealfuturefor agricultureinthis province.”