Linda Barnett

Linda Barnett

Fewer farms change agricultural fair

NANAIMO – Visitors ask breeders more questions about animals’ heritage at Vancouver Island Exhibition.

The Cedar 4-H has been part of the Vancouver Island Exhibition country fair for at least 70 years and according to the club’s treasurer, the fair has changed.

Linda Barnett, Cedar club treasurer and Beban Park 4-H barnyard supervisor, has participated in fairs dating back to 1988 and said there isn’t as much focus on agriculture as there once was.

“There’s more entertainment now, there’s less farms in the area, unfortunately, so the farmer competitions aren’t as intense as it used to be. 4-H is a large component of the fair now for the [animal] interaction with the public and the public asking questions, having hands-on,” Barnett said.

At this year’s fair, the 4-H had its barnyard with numerous animals, and in the past, members would bring animals, put them in a pen and people would walk by and members would give name and breed, Barnett said. Barnyard information is much more detailed now.

“Nowadays, they want to know the history of what the breed is, where it originated, what its purpose is, they want every step of the process to know and the genetic background of the animal,” said Barnett.

“The interest of that is more than it used to be, 25 to 30 years ago when it was farmers competing against each other and my [animals’] genetics may be more superior than your genetics, so that has changed,” she said.

While VIEX has been around for 120 years, 4-H in B.C. is celebrating its centennial and it is fitting the two anniversaries coincide, given the Cedar club has been a long-time draw at the Nanaimo fair.

The 4-H organization aims to develop youth and Cedar district includes Gabriola Island.