Agricultural society wins Heritage Award

The Battlefords Agricultural Society continues to make valuable contributions to the community 134 years after its foundation.

The Battlefords Chamber of Commerce and BBEX Committee awarded its Heritage Award to the community nonprofit last week.

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The agricultural society was nominated for the award about seven years ago, according to general manager Jocelyn Ritchie, but didn’t take the grand prize.

Educating the public is one of the society’s goals, in the past and in the present.

Reflections of an Era: A Look Back on 100 Years of the Battlefords Agricultural Society is a booklet published by the Battlefords Agricultural Society in 1985 that details the society’s history.

In 1885, a group of people south of the North Saskatchewan River began an organization “that would look after the interests of farmers.”

An initial agricultural fair, however, was delayed due to the North West Rebellion, Ritchie said. Battleford’s first fair was in 1887 after the Battle River Agricultural Society was formed.

As found in the booklet, one farmer wrote in 1891 the man making a living only by grain farming is wasting his time.

“Such farming cannot pay in any country, and the feeling is steadily gaining ground that more attention should be paid to the livestock department of agriculture.”

According to an argument made in 1901, even if a farmer didn’t get the prize money at the exhibition, he would benefit from the agricultural society in an educational way, “worth many times the annual fee.”

An agricultural society was formed north of the river in 1905. North Battleford incorporated in 1913.

The two towns had a rivalry, but joined together as one agricultural society in 1956.

The ag society has had its ups and downs, such as in 1960. The board of directors at the time invested their own money to save the exhibition.

Today, the society offers education for member farmers, and students who don’t live on the farm.

“A lot of our urban kids don't realize anything about what goes on in farming and how food gets to their plate,” Ritchie said, and the society tries to fix that.

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