By June Moilliet and Robyn Rexin
Lots of fun, friends, sheep, and hard work was the overall theme the Canada Day weekend in Barriere at the All Canada Sheep Classic. Taking place in the new North Thompson Agriplex on the Fall Fair grounds, the event drew crowds of people, participants and visitors alike, and over 350 sheep!
The All Canada Sheep Classic is Canada’s largest purebred (registered) sheep event of the year. Every year it is held in a different province, B.C. hosting the event this year. Purebred producers came from eight provinces bringing top quality sheep representing 16 different breeds. It was an opportunity to show and purchase champion performance-tested stock. Amazing dedication of organizers and participants made for a successful weekend.
Friday, June 28: All the sheep were organized in their pens, veterinary inspection of each animal done and the trade show set up. At noon the opening ceremonies commenced with welcoming remarks by MLA Terry Lake and the mayor of Barriere, Bill Humphreys, as well as the Sheep Classic hosts and organizers. The veterinary inspection took most of the day.
Saturday, June 29: The All Canada Sheep Classic Purebred Show competition went on all day. The judges were Doug Higginson from the Lower Mainland and Raymond Read from South Africa. Producers of all ages showed their ewes and rams. The Agriplex building was a beehive of activity: sheep being cared for, judging happening in the show ring, and people viewing the great variety of breeds of sheep in their pens.
The Trade Show had a variety of interesting tables including the Boulder Mountain Fiber Group of Barriere with spinning and felting demonstrations.
Wool was the theme of the hall as a fleece competition commenced with about 30 fleeces being judged, many from B.C. flocks. Numerous spinners and weavers mingled about looking at the wool with interest. The judging was done, ribbons were awarded, followed by a silent auction of the fleeces. It was an excellent opportunity for spinners to find fleeces they needed and networking with sheep producers. Aveley Ranch of Vavenby entered a Corriedale fleece in the competition and it fetched a good price in the auction, as Corriedale wool is excellent for spinning.
Sunday, June 30: The final day was sale day. The auctioneers kept the place lively. All the sheep sold were all top quality purebred show animals. The buyers from all areas of B.C. and Canada were purchasing ewes and rams for their own flocks’ breeding programs. It was a great opportunity to see the huge variety of breeds available. One of the highest bids on a registered ram was $3,400. Some Suffolk rams sold for up to $1,000. Other rams ranged from $400 to $800 and higher per animal. Breeds represented included Suffolk, Dorper, Southdown, Dorset, Border Cheviot, Clun Forest, Canadian Arcott, Hampshire, Romney, Shropshire, British Milksheep, North Country Cheviot, Texel, Colored Romney and Charolais. By the end of the day the sheep were loaded up and ready to go to their new homes; their owners exhausted.