Farm shows all about passion for farming

This week in Yorkton the Grain Millers Harvest Showdown takes place.

For a journalist who got his start primarily writing about all things agriculture after having grown up on a small mixed farm, it always feels like I am very much in my element attending the event.

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The summers of my youth were spent showing livestock at summer fairs, but through the years there was a shift to big fall events.

Where once only the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto existed, a trip east on a train when I was 12 still a treasured memory, The Canadian Western Agribition sprung up in Regina. The birth of Agribition was huge in terms of marketing purebred livestock genetics in the west, and my Dad and I showed there for the first decade or so.

The success of Agribition helped Farmfair in Edmonton, AgEx in Brandon, and smaller shows such as Harvest Showdown take root.

In the case of Harvest Showdown, it is something of an anniversary event for me. I arrived at Yorkton This Week in September and one of my earliest assignments was to go down to the Yorkton Exhibition Association to interview then manager Shaun Morin about plans for the inaugural Harvest Showdown, then held in October. I found Shaun pounding pegs into the asphalt of the parking lot for the tents used in the early years to house livestock.

That was 30 years ago, and here I am still looking forward to covering the event.

It has been an interesting journey for Harvest Showdown. Through the years things have come, commercial sheep shows, llama shows, heavy draft horse hitch events and canola days, and have gone by the wayside, all of the aforementioned.

But, two core aspects have stayed constant, anchors for Harvest Showdown if you will; the commercial cattle show and sale, and a commercial grain show. The pair of events has worked because they attract the average producer in the parkland to bring their best cattle and grains to town to be judged.

I suspect for most exhibitors the red ribbon of winning, while appreciated, is not necessarily the primary motivation for participating. That key motivation is much more likely to be a good excuse to attend the show and talk ‘shop’ with fellow producers. Harvest is over, the cattle in pasture, and producers need that break to just relax a little among people who know exactly what challenges they have faced.

This year of course the challenges of weather have been legion, and the mood of producers may be more subdued than most years, but in that regard they will not be alone when meeting at Harvest Showdown.

And therein lies the reason for Harvest Showdown lasting three decades now, being a place for everyday farmers to gather to share their passion for the business of agriculture.