Fair brings out the competition
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013 08:18 am
The culinary talents of a foothills teen were well rewarded at the Millarville country fair in the late ’50s. Not much has changed five decades later.
Mary Ann Watson, from the Square Butte area in the MD of Foothills, is again entering her sweets in the Priddis and Millarville Fair and bringing home ribbons not only for her baking but also her photography, fibre arts and horticulture.
“I’ve gotten ribbons in everything – breads, cookies, canning, preserves,” she said. “I put a lot of entries in. The averages are if you put in enough entries you might win something.”
This year, Watson plans to enter up to 70 categories at the 106th annual Priddis and Millarville Fair at the Millarville Race Track on Aug. 17. The event goes from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Among Watson’s favourites are her flowers and vegetables. She said both are doing well this year.
She is also whipping up a few secret recipes, but not every batch is a guaranteed success.
“It’s trial and error and some flops,” she said. “This year we have the disaster category and that can be in baking, too. I’ve already had one of those. My chiffon cake fell out of the pan.”
The fair’s “insurance” category gives unsuccessful entries one last chance for a blue ribbon. This is especially handy when a hailstorm destroys vegetables and flower crops.
Watson said there were plenty of those last year and is keeping her fingers crossed for good weather.
Priddis resident John MacKenzie also hopes to bring another blue ribbon home after winning the working farm truck competition last year, which put $100 in his wallet.
His one-ton 1985 GMC won first place last year, gaining points for its high mileage, veterinary supplies in the cab, baked goods to bribe the judges, a fender stitched on with wire, a wrinkled up hood, a banged up back end and a bale of hay on the bale picker.
“It has lots of miles,” he said. “It’s been there, hauled that.”
This year, MacKenzie is entering his 1992 Dodge three-quarter ton truck, which he expects will do well on character points.
“It was born ready,” he said. “If a guy could win two or three in a row, that would hold the rest of the crowd back for a while. Winning isn’t everything, but it sure helps.”
Eight people entered the farm truck competition last year, said fair chairperson Donna Kendall. Points are lost if judges can find FM on the radio, if all the mirrors are intact and if the tires match. Points are gained for things like defunct mirrors, baler twine hanging from the side mirror, residue from newborn stock and traces of mice, Kendall said.
All entries must be road-worthy, licensed, insured and must be able to carry a bale.
“You wouldn’t want to be seen in the winner,” she laughed. “It’s a working farm truck, not one you’d be driving off to Sunday church in.”
These and other competitions are what bring thousands of people to the fair each year. Crafts, baking, growing, writing, grooming, photography and sewing skills are among those put to the test.
Children can also get involved with competitions in photography to 4-H, as well as the talent show, roping competitions and the new stick horse race racing championship.
Among the day’s activities are the antique tractor show, show and shine, live auction, musical ride, pet show, children’s centre with bouncy castles, heavy horses making ice cream, petting zoo, hay rides, parade, farm-related demonstrations and the weekly farmers’ market.
“You can’t see everything there is to see in a day,” said Kendall. “There is so much there it’s absolutely overwhelming.”
Raffle tickets are available for a dream outhouse, built by Homes By Avi in Calgary, the same company that built the Calgary Stampede dream home, at $5 each. Proceeds go to the Rowan House Emergency Shelter.
Kendall said the two-seater outhouse features a veranda, lace curtains, a rocking chair, butter churner, rug, coat hanger and towel rack.
In addition to the activities, Kendall said education is a big component of the fair.
“There is always someone to talk to,” she said. “The historical people are there so you can find out the history of the MD and the agricultural society.”
Even the salt block competition is educational, Kendall said. Farmers and ranchers bringing in their most unique-looking used salt licks for this unusual competition.
“City people are absolutely amazed at what animals do to a salt block when they lick it,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for education for the young and old.”
Entries for the fair competitions are open until Aug. 14.
Admission to the Priddis and Millarville Fair is $5. Children ages eight years and under are free.
For more information or a schedule of activities go to http://www.millarvilleracetrack.com/event/priddis-millarville-fair