Country Fair looking to bring down home to the home town

farm market

by Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – A 200-seat outdoor dinner and street dance will cap a day-long Country Fair this summer. The event takes place Aug. 23 and is the result of the Morinville Community Gardens and Lions Club partnering with the Morinville Farmers’ Market.

Morinville Farmers’ Market Manager Korien Sampson said the idea started from a Twitter comment asking the Friday market to host a bench and exhibition fair, an event where people could compare their produce, baked goods and critters in a competitive format. Sampson said once the seed was planted things sort of steamrolled from there. “I kind of had this vision of a Blue-Ribbon, Pennsylvania State Fair type idea and then it just became an all-encompassing day,” she said. “We named it the Morinville Country Fair because it’s our way of giving back to the community that supports us.”

The Saturday event will take place at the arena parking lot, starting with a community breakfast running from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. hosted by the Morinville Lions Club. The Farmers’ Market will run from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in tandem with a food court, beer gardens, and a number of country fair-style games and activities, including a tug of war contest, watermelon eating contest and possibly mechanical bull riding. “We are planning events for everyone – kids, moms, dads, and grandparents,” Sampson said of the wide variety of community fair activities the committee is planning. “We are trying desperately to keep all our costs as low as we possibly can, while ensuring that no community groups end up losing money. It’s a fine line, but we must charge for some events, as we have no funding at this time for this event.”

Although there is no cost for most of the games and other activities, the bench fair will have a nominal registration fee of $1 per item, but registration fees will be capped at $10 per entrant. Registration will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and judging will commence at 3 p.m.
Adding to the country fair theme, organizers are planning a number of 15- to 20-minute classes throughout the afternoon. Some of the classes will be put on by the Morinville Community Gardens. Others will teach people how to make dough art, how to knit and crochet, the basics of photography, and potentially a flower arranging class.

Farm to Table dinner a major component

Although the Morinville Community Gardens will host a couple of classes on working in your garden, their major contribution to the event will be their first Farm to Table Dinner, an event the organization has been working on for months, and one President Val Loseth is referring to as an extraordinary culinary event. The concept takes local ingredients as diverse as the herbs growing in planters on 100 Avenue to local grain and meat producers inside and outside the region, and putting those ingredients in the hands of chefs from the Green Bean, Kelley’s Deli and Bakery, Sal’s Famous, and Premium Food Services. The main meat will be pork, but there will be samplings of duck, bison and lamb. “They are all going to prepare the meat according to their style. It’ll be a taste of Morinville,” Loseth said, adding the only stipulation is the chefs are required to use local ingredients in their preparations. “We’re going to collect all the recipes and put them up on the website afterwards so everybody can have access to them.”

But while the food is sure to be a hit, Loseth and her group believes the communal meal is a major component of the event’s importance. With 200 tickets available for the event she is hoping to see 35 separate tables lined up in the middle of the street, and place settings for those inside and outside Morinville to break bread at the end of a summer’s day.

Tickets for the Farm to Table Dinner are $25, proceeds that will be used to expand the Morinville Community Gardens location across from the arena. “We’re going to use it as a bit of a fundraiser for our next project. We want to create an inlaid labyrinth and perennial bed. That doesn’t come cheap, even with grants and funding from other sources,” Loseth said.

Thinking of farming

The date of the Farm to Table Dinner and Community Fair coincide with Farm Day in Alberta, a day when farmers are encouraged to open their gates to the public for tours. “It just happened by coincidence that we organized this event on the same weekend,” Loseth said. “We decided we would actually create a country fair based on the farm.”

The event runs Aug. 23 from 9 a.m. until the dance is done. The Farm to Table Dinner will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are limited to 200 and are available at Sobey’s, Servus Credit Union, Vintage Petals, Shell, Turner Goldsmith, Hunter’s Print and Copy, and Marshall’s Roofing.

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