Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2010 Plowing Match in St. Thomas, Ontario

The Ontario Bee Association had a booth at the International Plowing Match in Sept 2010 at St. Thomas, Ontario. Over 80,000 visitors attended this one week event.

Our Bee Club was running the booth and we all signed up to do a stint (all the bee clubs in Ontario are umbrellaed under the Ontario Bee Association). Dad and I volunteered for all day Saturday, the last day of the event.

Years ago when I sold my art work I used to sell at the Plowing Match in the artist's tent. This time, as a volunteer, I found that we were so busy it was hard to get away to see all the other booths.

This event is HUGE. I'm not sure exactly how many acres of farm land were used for the event but it looked like between 400 and 600 acres.

Click here to see ariel shots of the event. It'll give you a perspective on the actual size of this event.

The committees and teams and groups that brought about this impressive event are to be commended, as well as our own bee club president.

I looked back as we were leaving and was amazed how hydro poles and running water were all installed in these fields to cover for a one week event.

There was "Tent City" where the booths were, farther back was the area where the actual plowing matches were held, and there was even a huge RV Park created for all the international travellers, complete with water and electricity.

Our booth was in the animal education tent and was very well attended. All week long thousands of children came through as school bus groups. This was a great opportunity to provide education to the general public and answer their questions about honey bees.

Of course, being an animal lover, this was my favourite tent. We were housed with pigs, sheep, chickens, cows and goats. There were demonstrations at the various events and children could see first hand cows and goats being milked.

The public is aware that bees are under stress and I found there was increased curiosity and tons of questions from them.

There were two excellent observation hives in our booth and we spent a lot of time showing people the differences between the Queen, the workers and drones. Many wanted to know how queens were made.

[This 5 frame observaton hive was made based on a design on the web site. I'll blog on that next time. The bees did survive longer than a week in this setup.

We weren't giving out or tasting honey but we had bottles of it to show them. This I think is important because it shows the different colours of honey. Many people are unaware that honey comes in different colours--and flavours.

If you're a beekeeper you probably know that. Too many people buy the blended honeys from supermarkets. While nice, they just don't give the same taste experience that single floral or wild flower bloom honeys give.

Many are surprised to learn that its the flowers that give the flavour to the honey. Along with a little bit of bee spit.

We had frames of capped honey to show, the uncapping knife, an extractor and of course beekeeper protective gear such as hat, veil, jacket and smoker. The kids love to put on the hat and veil.

We had empty hives to show all the components and many people interested in beekeeping wanted to see how they worked together.

Beekeepers coming back into the hobby wanted to knowabout setups to deal with Varroa Mites, such as screened bottom boards. Many people dropped by to view the observation hives and to tell us about a beekeeper that lived next door, down the road, etc. It was a very positive experience.

There were tons of exhibits with demonstrations.

[Photo - This man is from a raptor society and is talking about different kinds of predatory birds.]

If you decide to come next year, wear your most sturdy shoes. There's lots of walking, however, their are tractors that pull wagons to move people from one exhibit to another. They also had electric carts that you could rent so you could save your feet.

Next year, I'll book a day or two when I can go and be the tourist.
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