Rural living sees resurgence at Crapaud Exhibition

Mitch MacDonald, The Guardian
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61st annual exhibition sees large crowd take in number of event

Lawn tractors being pushed to the limit, horses racing around barrels and the smells of fresh home cooking were just some of the aspects of rural living that took the spotlight on Prince Edward Island this weekend.

Thousands took in the numerous family-friendly events at the 61st annual Crapaud Exhibition on the province's south shore this weekend.

Tom Albrecht, director of the exhibition's board of directors, said organizers were initially concerned about this year's attendance with a plethora of other events being held this summer for P.E.I. 2014.

"There are so many things going on in P.E.I.... we were a little bit concerned about how that would impact on us," Albrecht said during an interview with The Guardian. "The bottom line is we had a great weekend, everyone enjoyed themselves and we're happy for that."

Crowds bustled through the busy exhibition grounds for much of the sunny weekend.

Several volunteers commented that crowds were higher during the exhibition's peak on Saturday than in recent years.

The lawn tractor and truck pulls also saw a higher number of registered participants than in the past few years, with both young and old competing on the track.

Other popular events included the woodman competition, as well as a show-and-shine with a number 18-wheeler semi-trailer trucks.

The day also saw a number of agricultural demonstrations, including one focusing on keeping pests away from fields with the help of predatory birds such as falcons and hawks.

Cooking skills were brought to a test with the mock cherry and blueberry pie contests, while 4-H members took part in a number of showmanship events.

Most of the exhibition's events were held Saturday, which ended with a salute to local champions and a potato peeling contest.

While the crowd was smaller on Sunday for the barrel racing and draft horse pulls, those there were not left disappointed.

That was especially true for the number of exhibitors who travelled from out of province for the events.

Gail Williams, of Pugwash N.S., was one of the many who made the trek to P.E.I. for the exhibition.

Williams, who owns Yoho Farms in Pugwash with her husband David Williams, competed in the barrel racing event with Canadian Thoroughbred "She's a Jazzy Girl."

"And she is," said Williams, while patting the horse. "She's absolutely beautiful, I love her."

While Williams had competed in barrel racing during the past five years at the Cumberland County Exhibition, it was her first time riding with the Maritime Barrel Racing Association.

It's a decision she won't regret.

"I needed to get here, I love this and I love the people," said Williams. "The sports people here are amazing and this whole association, they're just great all around."

Albrecht said many of the exhibition's events saw local participants as well as competitors from other provinces.

"We get them from all over the Maritimes, Ontario and Quebec," he said. "Saturday was a terrific day, we had a really good turnout. Everybody was having a good time and when we asked questions of 'how are you enjoying yourselves,' they were all positive comments.

"The comments we get about the grounds, they're probably second to none."

This coming weekend will see the grounds host the P.E.I. Tractor Pull Championships.

Albrecht said once that event is over, the exhibition board will already be looking at next year.

"There's no time off," said Albrecht, who also thanked the large number of volunteers that helped this year go smoothly. "We'll evaluate what we did right and what didn't go so well. Where changes have to be done, we'll make them and get ready to put on an even better show next year."

Organizations: Canadian Thoroughbred, Cumberland County Exhibition, Maritime Barrel Racing Association

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Quebec

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