For the first time, the Agassiz Fall Fair is going to the dogs.
Every year, the Agassiz Agricultural and Horticultural Association chooses a different theme for the Fall Fair and Corn Festival. Often, the theme falls to a local crop — corn, sunflowers and pumpkins to name a few in recent memory — which sets the tone for the parade, displays and educational opportunities.
This year, the association decided to go with something a little different.
“We’ve done all sorts of fruits and vegetables,” president Victoria Brookes said. “We’ve had a Year of the Goat and a Year of the Rabbit.”
“We’ve done some of the other 4H animals, and there’s always a lot of 4H dogs,” she continued. “So it was time we honour them.”
Early on Saturday, the fair will give those 4H dogs an opportunity to show their best, with the 4H dog show at 10 a.m. Many of the exhibits in the Agricultural Hall are also likely to be dog-themed, from quilts to floral displays to baking.
But the fair will also be bringing some new doggy entertainment for this year’s theme.
At 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nancy Barker will be at work with her border collies herding sheep from her farm in Yarrow. (For more on that, see page 15.) At noon, another dog-lover will be out with his working pups in a geese herding demonstration.
These events are meant to showcase the agricultural heritage of dogs in the District of Kent and other farming communities.
Dogs have been working alongside farmers for more than 12,000 years, with some of their earliest jobs revolving around herding sheep and cattle. There are now more than four dozen breeds devoted to herding stock — including Barker’s border collies.
But a modern world means that not every dog is a farm dog. Some are happy pets with no other thought than getting a nice scratch after a long walk in the park. And others are doing work in different ways, by helping people with disabilities or comforting those dealing with trauma.
“Dogs are used for farming, but they’re also used for comfort animals,” Brookes explained.
Brookes said she had been trying to get someone with a service dog or therapy dog to come to the fair to share their experiences, as another way for people to learn how dogs are continuing to impact people’s lives.
After all, that’s what man’s best friend does best.