LAWRENCETOWN, NS - The 40th annual 4-H Pro Show came into town like a hurricane Sept. 29 for a whirlwind weekend of judging, showing, demonstrating – and having fun.
County booths packed the Youth Arena, showing off amazing projects from all across the province. Green was the colour, and 18 was the number – 18 counties. Barns were packed, stalls were filled. Saddles crowded the walkways.
“On behalf of the 2017 4-H Pro Show committee we’re very excited to welcome you to our very own Annapolis County,” said Troy Emmett, chair of the hosting committee. “Our county last hosted Pro Show in 2003 … if you all recall there was a little matter of a Hurricane Juan which meddled with our schedule forcing everyone to pull out early.”
This time it was the Pro Show that was the force of nature, packing 40 years of 4-H into three days at the Annapolis Valley Exhibition grounds with top 4-Hers from county clubs showing the public their accomplishments.
“The next century belongs to 4-H in Nova Scotia as it focuses on developing global citizens with the skills vital to our evolving communities, growing populations, and increasing food demand, while honouring the proud traditions of the past,” said Port Williams’ David Hovell chair of 4-H Canada Council's board of directors during opening ceremonies during the evening of the first of three days.
And the theme reflected the need for great future leaders: ‘Let the Clover be Seen in 2017.’
“We’re very proud of our heritage, we’re very proud of the agricultural community that is here,” said Nova Scotia Premier and Annapolis MLA Stephen McNeil, “and we’re very proud of the 4-H clubs that for decades have been building young citizens and making sure that our children get exposed not only to the agricultural community for those of us who didn’t grow up on a farm, but quite frankly exposed them to so many varieties of opportunities that 4-H offers.”
McNeil is no stranger to the Main Ring where he was speaking. In the Premier’s Office he has photos of his children showing dairy cattle on the spot he was standing during opening ceremonies.
“I want to say to the organizers of this event – who brought the province to Lawrencetown – but also to the many people out there who are working in county clubs … not only are you building your community but you’re building great citizens,” said the Premier. “You’re impacting the future of this province in such a positive way.”
“This weekend represents two years – and I want to stress that because it’s twoooo lonnng years – getting this ready,” said Emmett, stressing the ‘two’ and the ‘long.’ “And we needed to do it in two years because it’s 40 years worth of Pro Shows. We wanted to put on a Pro Show worthy of the 40-year history of this event in Nova Scotia.”
For Emmett it was an event close to his heart and his voice broke as he spoke about 4-H.
“I very personally became very excited about the prospect of hosting this show after watching my eldest daughter compete for the very first time at a Pro Show,” he said. “As you can tell by my voice I’ve really wanted to do this for a while and I can’t believe it’s here so I’m sorry.Anybody in 4-H can tell you what an amazing program this is. I didn’t grow up in 4-H but my wife did – and here I am.”
Moving the ceremonies along were provincial 4-H host and hostess Michael Congdon and Hayley Frail. Town Crier Peter Davis and junior crier proclaimed the event, and Judy Pearson, elder at Bear River First Nations spoke, along with West Nova MP Colin Fraser, and others including 4-H Nova Scotia president Sue Works, 4-H Nova Scotia executive director Robin Benedict. Other platform guests were 4-H Annapolis County Leaders Council president Danny Phinney, and lifelong 4-H members Wheldon Smith, Vickie Barteaux, and Jean Ward.
The Pro Show, featuring top members of 18 counties, was open free of charge to the public, and hundreds packed the exhibition grounds for three days.
Hovell said the success of 4-h is positive youth development.
“It’s the essence of why our leaders and programs have such a profoundly positive impact on our members,” he said. “We allow youth to pursue and build upon their strengths, lead in their clubs, partner with adults, learn to do by doing – all while involving their families and communities. This ‘Learn to Do by Doing’ philosophy is what you will see before you this weekend. You will see young people that have taken a leadership role, building their self-esteem and strength of character.”
Hovell commended 4-H members and 4-H leaders.
“Your dedication to learning and helping those eager to learn is a testament to that special magic that makes 4-H work,” he said. “Fulfilling the mission of 4-H in Canada is a result of the hard work and dedication of members, leaders, volunteers, sponsors, and staff – like those of you gathered here tonight. Your support ensures the 4-H program will continue to thrive in the years ahead.”