“Epic”, “Best Ever” and “Top Notch”: these were some of the comments received to describe the 2015 CAFE Convention which was held November 19-21 in Niagara Falls. With over 200 delegates, an ideal setting, and an inspiring line up of speakers, it seemed that the planets were in alignment to provide delegates with a memorable convention experience.
National Award Winners
Several outstanding organizations and individuals received national recognition on Friday evening, November 20th, during award presentations at the Annual CAFE Convention. They included:
- Markham & East York Agricultural Society: Best New or Improved Program or Idea (Agri-Food Tent
- Windsor Agricultural Society: Best Poster (Hants County 250th Exhibition)
- Roll of Honour: David Coombes (Windsor Agricultural Society), Bingo Hauser, posthumously (West Coast Amusements), David Bednar (Canadian National Exhibition)
- Service Member of the Year: Shane Farberman (Doo Doo the Clown/Farco Entertainment)
- Canadian Fair Champions: Neal Keefe (Weyburn Ag Society), Clifton Chapman (Edmonton Northlands), Gladys Curry (Renfrew Ag Society)
National CAFE Award 2015 – Best New or Improved Program or Idea
How can we educate the community on the variety of locally grown food and get them jazzed about cooking it?
Three years ago a group of people with roots in the agricultural community of Markham asked themselves this question and came up with an incredible idea. Their vision has since become reality in the Agri-Food Tent at the Markham Fair.
Through a variety of hands on and interactive activities, both children and adults have fun learning about locally grown foods as well as organizations that support the food industry in Markham. Whether it’s grinding wheat into flour, planting a soybean to take it home and help it grow, making canola oil or learning about the products we buy in the grocery store, there is something for people of all ages to learn and explore.
The Agri-Food Tent provides a venue for a variety of organizations that support the food industry in Markham. The Cattleman’s Association, Soil and Crop Association, Dairy Producers Food Network and Honey Producers are just a few of the local groups that are represented in the tent.
The Agri- Food Tent not only does a wonderful job of raising awareness of where to buy the foods grown locally, it also provides the community with ideas for preparing simple yet delicious food. At the Hands-On Real Food Station, children have fun preparing foods such as veggies and dip or healthy fruit snacks. In advance of the fair, the organizers reach out to the community for people who have ideas to share about preparing food on the Local Food Stage.
The Agri-Food Tent continues to evolve and change with the needs of the community. This year, the tent included a booth from the Region’s Waste Management Department where the community was provided education and encouragement on buying and valuing local foods by cooking them properly as best practices revolving around reducing food waste. This past spring, a grant was awarded to the Agri-Food Tent from the Ontario Local Food Fund which was used to purchase a portable demonstration kitchen and trailer. It will be used to travel to other fairs in the surrounding communities with the intent of spreading the message of cooking with local food.
As a volunteer, I have observed the immense popularity of the Agri-Food Tent. It is a must see for the school age children who come in droves to plant a bean, milk a cow, try out the wheat grinder, and pile into the weigh station with their classmates to see how many it of them takes to equal the weight of a cow! The cooking competitions “So You Think You Can Cook At The Fair”, for home cooks and “The Road To The Royal Chef Challenge”, for local restaurant chefs are popular events which always pack the tent.
A group of inspired volunteers had a vision for a venue that would promote and educate around buying local food cooking and enjoying. It has not only succeeded, but also accomplished so much more, and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the future. It gives Markham Fair great pride to receive the award for the Agri-Food Tent for the CAFE National Award for Best New or Improved Program or Idea.