Today and tomorrow UFA Aggie Days are being held in Lethbridge at Exhibition Park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Students from more than 30 school classes, ranging from Kindergarten to Grade 9 including schools from Coaldale and surrounding area, will be taking part and learning about where food comes from and so much more. “It’s a two-day educational ag program and its free to the public,” said Doug Kryzanowski, manager of corporate relations, marketing, events and entertainment at Exhibition Park, during an information session held last week. The event also offers free parking over the two-day event, now in its eighth year.
According to Kryanowski, activities include horse shoeing instruction, rope making, wool spinning, electrical safety instruction, a petting zoo, the ever-popular sheep shearing demos and a Safety City Ag-For-Life rollover simulator. There will also be two $500 RESPs given away to registered students. “Historically, back in 2007 we did just over 1,700 primarily students at that time and we had some pressure from the public saying ‘why can’t the public come in?’ It is a free event, so the public is definitely more than invited,” said Kryanowski, adding the event has increased from 1,758 in attendance in 2007 to 4,500 in attendance in 2013.
The exhibitor list has also increased close to three-fold since the first one, added Kryanowski, and the program has been expanded to two buildings this year with ag-related livestock in the south pavilion and displays and exhibitors in the north pavilion.
Most importantly though is the mandate of the event and that is to increase agriculture education and to provide a basic understanding of how food is produced locally.
“It’s teaching young people where the food comes from — from ground to table. With all the exhibits we’ve got, we’ve got some interactive activities and it’s also good for the parents,” said Kryanowski, adding kids and parents need to understand food doesn’t come from a frozen box.
“I think we’re losing some of that, especially in southern Alberta, where it is very important to understand that this is what our economy is here. We’re not totally oil and gas. I think the more education about agriculture and about where it comes from, farming and whether it’s a rodeo or whatever the case may be that heritage element we can’t lose in this area,” he noted.
Rudy Nordin, a UFA members relations representative, also spoke last week about the importance of students learning about the agriculture sector and how it impacts their lives. “In today’s busy world we all seem to take for granted the importance of agriculture and the role it plays in the years to come,” said Nordin. “We’re here to invest in our future by educating our kids on the importance of agriculture and to educate them where our food comes from and how it impacts their everyday life,” said Nordin, adding Aggie Days-type events are being held to raise awareness regarding agricultural production and farm safety across Alberta and Saskatchewan.