Haliburton County Fair celebrates harvest online

By Sue Tiffin

Staff reporter

The next best thing to gardening, and eating the results of your labour, is showing off what you’ve been able to harvest at the end of a growing season.

The Haliburton County Fair board and Minden Agricultural Society is providing an opportunity for growers to do just that, resulting in pride for those who participate in an online contest – and possibly a cash prize, as well.

“Essentially people post their pictures, we’ve created events on our Facebook page for people to post pictures and a short description onto the contest page they’re interested in,” said Eric Casper, a director on the Haliburton County Fair executive.

Nine Haliburton County Fair contests will run during the next four weeks: tallest sunflower; cucumber harvest; tallest corn; largest zucchini; largest pumpkin; largest squash; best decorated pumpkin and an adult and youth (17 and under) category for harvest basket. Cash prizes of $25, $15 or $10 can be won.

The idea came after the Haliburton County Fair was cancelled this year, due to challenges in organizing events in which crowds gather, or using township property during the pandemic.

“We’re really excited,” said Casper. “For us, because we didn’t have the fair this year, it was a way – because our objective as an agricultural society is to promote agriculture within the community – we figured this was the best way to move forward and keep the fair in people’s minds.”

Casper said the online option was intended to engage the community. Those submitting photos of gardens should be fair members – a membership can be purchased for just $8. So far, through the Haliburton County Fair Facebook page, conversations have been positive and community members have been excited about the opportunity.

“We’ve reached 4,000 people in the last three days that have interacted with us so this is a huge spike for us,” said Casper, reviewing traffic statistics on the social media page. He notes that, “theoretically anyone in the world could post a picture here, it’s open to anybody, but obviously we’re promoting agriculture in our area.”

Casper said it has been positive to see so many people try their hand at gardening this year.

“I know one of the things I remember back in March and April when we were all in our houses, and then came May and June when we all started planting, I remember reading reports of victory gardens, how they used to have them in war days and how that was going to be a new thing because everyone was at home and planting,” he said. “I think it’s an important thing for us to realize, we can feed ourselves. We can have food security, or at least a little bit of it anyway, we don’t have to depend on the grocery stores as much, especially as people are canning more and preserving more. I think if you have that thought process of I’m going to grow my own food, one it’s healthier, two it’s healthier just to be outside, and three, you might have that sense of community a little bit more.”

The group hopes to organize a quilt and craft online contest later in the year, as well, and Casper said the harvest photo option could continue into the future, offering an extra chance to promote agriculture outside of the Fair, which is usually held in June prior to ideal harvesting time.

“Because we’re in June, which isn’t a big harvest time, this might actually be something that lives on as we move forward even after we go out of the COVID years,” he said.

For now, online contests run until Oct. 3.

“This is a way of keeping us in the forefront of people’s minds, bringing us together and celebrating what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve grown in our gardens,” said Casper.

Additionally, a Haliburton County Fair 50/50 and quilt draw will be held on Oct. 12. Tickets are three for $5 and can be purchased through Wendy Connelly, Cathy Fisher, Eric Casper, with e-transfers available, or via the Haliburton County Fair Facebook page.

For more information visit http://haliburtoncountyfair.ca/ or Haliburton County Fair on Facebook.