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P.E.I. heritage on display

Traditions may change, but Old Home Week exhibition and fair still brings the farm to Charlottetown


Old Home Week has been an Island tradition for more than 125 years. 
In comparison, Diana Xia is a relative newcomer, but the week is something her family has already incorporated into their own lives.
Between the fun of the exhibition rides and the novelty of seeing all the farm animals on display, her children can’t wait for it, said Xia, who is originally from China.
“We moved to Stratford three years ago and we’ve come every year (since).”
Another newcomer to the event was a harness-racing VR exhibit set up by P.E.I. Agriculture and Fisheries and made in conjunction with Furrow Creative, a local creative media studio.
A harness race was staged and a GoPro camera was used to capture 360-degree video, which allows attendees to experience racing from the safety of sitting behind a plastic horse.
There were also some more decidedly low-tech activities — like digging for potatoes, a sandbox filled with corn and some tractors to play with — all of which were meant to engage and educate, said Tara Murphy, the agricultural program officer overseeing the exhibit.
“We want to teach the children that milk comes from a cow, apples come from trees and potatoes come from the ground,” she said.
Of course, there are plenty of kids from across Atlantic Canada already active in farming who come to participate in livestock competitions.
Elwyn Smuthurst, 11, from Nova Scotia is one of them. 
Like Xia, this is Smuthurst’s third Old Home Week and, also like Xia, it’s definitely a family affair. 
Smuthurst will represent her family’s farm, Windarra Farms, when she shows her cow in competition just like her grandfather, she said.
“I like doing it because my grandfather’s done it since he was my age.”
On Sunday, she was with her brother and some friends. They were sitting in camping chairs behind a row of cows and they all had a simple job, said Smuthurst.
“You’ve got to watch and make sure they don’t poop and lay down in it.”
They accomplished this by holding a container to catch the special surprises before the patties ended up on the ground.
It may not be the most glamorous task in the world, but given she has to start washing her cow at 6 a.m. on competition day, any little bit to keep it clean helps.

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