O’LEARY — David and Bobby Harris of Harris Brother Inc. are humbled by the recognition they received at the recent farmer’s banquet in O’Leary
They’re the winners of the Potato Grower of the Year award.
“It’s not just a thank you for us but the entire industry,” said David Harris. “We all work hard to produce our individual product so we see this award as a prize for everyone in this field of work.”
Nearly 300 people attended the annual dinner, followed by a short awards ceremony.
Eric Phillips calls this event his baby.
“I spend months every year putting together this night,” said Phillips, the event chairman. “I was quite pleased with this year’s outcome.”
The banquet is part of the Potato Blossom Festival in the town. Over the course of a week there’s a beauty pageant, parade, fireworks display and family events. The dinner is the highlight for many.
“It’s my favourite part of the week,” said Phillips. “Everyone comes together and supports the award winners.”
In O’Leary, just about everyone has a connection to a farm so there are plenty of candidates from which to choose. The Harris brothers have more than ties, they have roots.
The brothers grew up on their family farm but have since created their own farming company.
“It’s in our blood. We we’re born into this and saw no reason to ever want out of it,” said David.
“There are challenging days, like any other workplace, but it can be rewarding at the end.”
The brothers employ up to 16 workers during prime season, an operation that has an impact on the local economy.
“It’s good to help out and give back to the community.”
Giving back to the rural communities is something Tourism Minister Robert Henderson has made a priority.
“I believe it is important to use celebrations to draw people to our communities,” said Henderson.
The province has funded 166 different projects as part of the 2014 celebrations. The potato festival is one of them.
“We have events spread out across the Island and a number of events here in O’Leary.”
About 40 per cent of all funding from the province has gone to the Charlottetown area.
“What we’re celebrating in 2014 is actually the recognition of the Sesquicentennial Charlottetown Conference so we can’t ignore that city. But we were focused on evenly distribution the funding.”