Agricultural Society remembers roots
It may be one of Airdrie’s oldest organizations, but the Airdrie and District Agricultural Society (ADAS) doesn’t let that stop them from making big plans for the future.
Recently, an ADAS member discovered a document in the Glenbow Museum archives that indicated the society was formed in 1909. It also told of activities, such as a gopher tail hunt that earned the winner $15 for gathering 1,500 tails back at the turn of the century.
In its current state ADAS goes back to 1974 when about 50 charter members officially registered the organization under the Alberta Agricultural Act. The registration allowed the organization to access provincial funds which were put to good use in helping to build and fund all three Airdrie arenas.
The organization continued running those arenas until 2006, when they handed them over to the City of Airdrie.
“We are here to support agriculture, to support those people who produce our food,” said ADAS President Brenda Moon.
To that end, the society puts on an annual fall fair, and has for 49 years, well before its official status as an agricultural society.
It is also involved with 4-H, providing funding and other resources and gives out two or three $1,000 scholarships each year to deserving Airdrie youth, who are going to post-secondary institutes and studying both agricultural and non-agricultural subjects.
The ADAS has also been involved with a number of community activities and organizations, including Meals on Wheels and the Airdrie Food Bank, to which it donated a building several years ago.
Over the years, a bevy of other campaigns, such as Airdrie’s Communities in Bloom project and the City Slickers Harvest program, which allowed children from inner city Calgary and Airdrie to experience harvest activities, have allowed ADAS to share the region’s cultural heritage with its current residents.
According to Moon, ADAS once owned 80 acres of land just south of Airdrie. The land was sold to purchase 150 acres three kilometres west of the city on Big Hill Springs Road off of Rural Route 14. The parcel is home to the society’s future agricultural park, which will include a number of facilities, an RV park, walking paths and a Heritage Farm site.
ADAS is actively fundraising for the $35-million facility, located on native prairie grasslands.
“The Agricultural Park is important to protect our western heritage and to give our youth and our community members a gathering place in the country where they can feel the soil, they can get dirty, they can see the mountains, they can see the prairies.”
During Culture in the Creek, the closing weekend of ARTember to take place at Nose Creek Park Sept. 28 to 30, ADAS will be on hand profiling the site of the future Agricultural Park and offering children’s activities.
The organization is also hosting its inaugural Art of the Harvest event Sept. 29 at the proposed site.
“We are going to have an old-time harvest demonstration with stooking and horse-drawn equipment and vintage farm equipment,” said Moon, adding the oldest piece will likely be a 1937 Case tractor.
An announcer will be on hand explaining what challenges farmer’s faced at the turn of the 19th century and now in order to get food on the table. Art of the Harvest will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and free beef on a bun will be given to the first 300 visitors. The event is free and family friendly.