St. Paul Ag Society raises the roof with centennial bash
Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014 02:30 pm
On the night of the St. Paul Agricultural Society’s 100 year anniversary party, Andre Chamberland has one word to describe his feelings on the big bash – “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”
“It’s fantastic. Blew me away. It’s beyond words,” said the society president, described during the Saturday night event as a “proud papa bear with his buttons popping off his shirt” by Lisa Hardy, executive director of Association of Alberta Agricultural Societies (AAAS).
To mark its centennial, the Ag Society offered a free afternoon of entertainment with wagon rides, children’s games, historical and equipment displays and aptly, a Farmer’s Market, which was followed by the night of dinner and dancing at the St. Paul Recreation Centre.
Dignitaries at the evening event included Hardy, MP Brian Storseth, MLA Shayne Saskiw, Town of St. Paul Mayor Glenn Andersen and County of St. Paul Reeve Steve Upham, who offered their congratulations. Many agreed with Chamberland’s assessment that the society was a “cornerstone” of St. Paul, with the community’s forefathers being a part of the Ag Society tradition. The society has given back to numerous causes along the way, while also putting on events that everyone looks forward to through the year, such as Bull-A-Rama, High School Rodeo and of course, the Lakeland Rodeo Association finals, said Saskiw.
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Verlyn Olson was also present at the event, saying it wasn’t every day he got to attend centennial celebrations for any of the 283 primary Ag Societies in the province.
“Obviously, this is one of the early ones, a forerunner,” he said. In 1914, when the Ag Society was formed, St. Paul had only been a town for five years and Alberta hadn’t even been a province for a decade. World War I was just about to erupt, and lives would be lost, marking just some of the many changes that would take place over the next century, he said.
“One of the things that hasn’t changed is the community spirit,” Olson noted, adding that “warmth, friendship and hospitality” still define rural Alberta, a statement that drew applause. Agriculture societies have a role to play in keeping communities together, as could be seen with the flooding in southern Alberta where Ag Society volunteers were among the first to pitch in and help, he said.
“You are a glue that is holding this community together in such a spectacular way,” he said. He noted that as Alberta grows and moves to a larger urban population, that people grow further from their rural roots. His response to the urbanites is to ask, “So do you like to eat?” Agriculture and food production is vitally important to the future of the province, and Ag Societies promote just that, he said.
Jaimie Kuzma and Megan-Lee Kotowich, who were sponsored by the Ag Society to attend a youth leadership conference, also spoke on the importance of 4-H and agriculture during the night, and thanked the Ag Society for its support of both.
“Jaime and I believe that we will be part of the next generation to continue this great legacy that we have seen unfold here tonight,” said Kotowich in her speech. “We can only hope that someday we can give back to our community as much as the St. Paul Ag Society has given back to this community over the last 100 years.”
Before the night turned to dancing to music delivered by fiddle master Calvin Vollrath and his fiddle camp instructors, guests were treated to a video of reflections from past Ag Society presidents, who shared their memories.
Those presidents and all the other volunteers that have served the St. Paul Ag Society were owed a debt of thanks, many noted.
“The reason the organization is as successful as it is, is because of all the people that came before us, that made this organization what it is,” said Chamberland. “Thank you so much – to everyone, to the community, for everything.”