Yukon Agricultural Association’s events committee, Mike Henderson, back left clockwise, Laird Crow, Matt Douglas, Jennifer Hall, and Leona Watson sit on a picnic table in the fairgrounds of the upcoming Yukon Farm Fair near Whitehorse on July 3, 2019. This will be the first farm fair since 2006. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Expanded fair to showcase farming fun

Inaugural Yukon Farm Fair will feature tractor tows, local wares, a bench show and more

What do you get when you combine a horticulture competition with a tractor tow, kids activities and a mini-mart full of locally grown and produced food?

You get the Yukon Agricultural Association’s (YAA) Yukon Farm Fair set for July 6 at the association’s community fairgrounds at kilometer 205.9 of the North Klondike Highway.

“We’d like it to be a celebration of Yukon farms and agriculture and an opportunity to celebrate our community,” YAA executive director Jennifer Hall said in a July 2 interview ahead of the event.

This marks the first official Yukon Farm Fair. It comes as an expansion to the annual demo days the association hosts each July, while also harkening back to the days of the Klondyke Harvest Fair, which had been an annual August tradition for many years up until the last one in 2006.

The annual demo days welcomes manufacturers to the fairgrounds to showcase their equipment, she said.

That will continue at the Yukon Farm Fair with Solvest, TotalTrac Kubota, and Horse Haven Ranch all scheduled to be at the fairgrounds showing off their equipment.

With members of the YAA wanting to add a bit to the annual demo days, work got underway to change the name and plan for events like the tractor tow, a variety of kids activities, a mini-mart where farmers can sell their wares, a horticulture show and a bench show competition where residents can show off their skills.

Everyone interested in the bench show is invited to enter. Entries can be dropped off by 11 a.m. July 6 at the fair and submitted into the junior or senior divisions for the categories of vegetables; canned goods and preserves; home cooking; fruits, plants and flowers; crafts and photography; and field crops.

Hall said this year’s competition is pretty informal, given that it’s the first year as the Yukon Farm Fair and recognizing July isn’t harvest season. Depending on how things go, future fairs may be held in August, during harvest time in the Yukon so locals can put the current year’s efforts on display.

Getting ready for the fair, Hall said she’s been enjoying going through memorabilia from the Klondyke Harvest Fair found in the YAA office.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said.

She’s found books — that are 40 pages-plus — detailing the extensive rules that governed the bench show of past fairs.

Top winners in the Yukon Farm Fair bench show will be presented with their own piece of Klondyke Harvest Fair history. Hall was pleased to discover a stash of harvest fair ribbons in the treasure trove of memorabilia within the association’s office.

Among the judges for the bench show will be Barbara Drury, who was well known for winning numerous awards back in the Klondyke Harvest Fair days.

Also on-hand at the fair will be officials with Wild Wise Yukon to discuss how property owners can better protect their livestock and produce; and the Smoke and Sow food truck serving up Yukon pork and beef.

As for how many Hall is expecting to take in the new fair and maybe even enter the competitions, she said she’s not entirely sure but believes there could be a large crowd.

About 75 took in the 2018 demo days and there seems to be significant social media interest in the fair.

As of the afternoon of July 4 the event’s Facebook page, 51 indicated they would be going, with more than 500 “interested” in the event. Many have also shared the event with others.

“It’s just unprecedented,” she said of the response, adding posters have also been put up around town to promote the fair.

Hall suggested visitors come early as parking may be at a premium given the public interest.

The interest, she said, reflects an overall growth in farming in the territory.

Many are calling for greater local food security and thus supporting local farms and food production, she said.

And it seems that’s creating a positive business climate as farmers take the leap and expand their operations.

There also seems to be greater attendance at the seasonal events held by the agricultural association — demo days/fair in the summer, a fall conference, a networking event in the winter and a workshop in the spring.

There are also a number of government programs in place to support that growth, Hall noted.

“It’s an excellent time to be in this sector,” she said.

The July 6 fair will get underway at 10 a.m. and wrap up around 3 p.m.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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