By Étienne Thevou
Sturgeon County – With an emphasis on value-added agriculture over the past few years, Sturgeon County is getting ready to show people just how diverse agricultural life has become. The 2011 Agricultural Service Board Tour and Awards Dinner take place Aug. 4, and will once again offer interested parties an opportunity to spend the day touring an interesting spectrum of County agriculture, capped with a dinner and celebration of Sturgeon County’s heritage and excellence in the evening.
Sturgeon County’s Manager of Agricultural Services, Quentin Bochar, said the annual event has been going on for more than three decades and is an opportunity to highlight the county’s agricultural producers, including tree orchards, berry farms and conventional crop producers. Bochar said each year the tour tries to highlight a different part of the sprawling county.
Although the agenda is not completely finalized, Bochar said this year’s tour itinerary will hopefully include a trip to a shelterbelt demonstration plot, a sprout farm, an alpaca farm and finally Smokin’ Elk Ranch just outside Morinville. Between the stops will be a lunch in Cardiff Park. “We’ve never really had the park as a stop,” Bochar said. “It’s fitting because the Ag. Services Department looks after the park.”
Although typically the event has been attended by retired farmers in the past, Bochar said the event is attracting a more diverse and younger crowd these days, people from a variety of places interested in the variety of agriculture available in Sturgeon County. “The original intent of the tour was for farmers, but realistically when you look at it today, whoever wants to come can come,” he said. “For people that aren’t in the farming background but are interested or always wanted to learn about it, this is a good way to open the door.”
The Ag Services manager said the tour offers participants an opportunity to see agricultural diversity first hand and country producers the opportunity for some additional exposure.
“It’s a nice day,” Bochar said. “People get out and at the end of the day we hand out our 100 Year Farm Family Awards and the Acreage and Farmland Beautification Awards.”
The annual tour will run from 8:30 a.m until 5 p.m. with cocktails and dinner to follow at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. Cost for the tour and dinner is $20, with dinner only tickets available at $10 per person. Interested parties are asked to RSVP with Anita at 780-939-8349 or firstname.lastname@example.org by July 27.