North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association directors, Joanne Pettersen and Jane Milburn, recently received national recognition from the Canadian Association of Fair and Exhibitions for their volunteer contributions to the NTFFRA.  (NTFFRA photos)

North Thompson Fall Fair board members receive national awards

Members of the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association report there was great excitement among their ranks the afternoon of Nov. 12, when two hard working board members received national recognition for their ongoing efforts on behalf of the local association. The awards were announced during the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions Awards Gala which was streamed online to maintain COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

Congratulations to NTFFRA director Joanne Pettersen (Darfield) who was awarded the CAFE Champion Award, and NTFFRA Director Jane Milburn (Barriere) who was awarded the CAFE Honour Award, for the dedication and volunteerism they have provided to the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association.

Here are the submissions that were presented by the NTFFRA in nominating these two ladies to the national organization.

Jane Milburn:

“Jane Milburn showed a dairy calf called Buttercup in our first North Thompson Fall Fair back in 1950. Since then Jane has been a constant member and outstanding volunteer who always “makes a difference”.

“Jane has held many positions as a volunteer with our association throughout the years, and now serves as a Board Member and a convener of many different committees.

“Jane is the kind of volunteer that organizations would die for! Always smiling, always cheerful, and a super diplomat when needed. She is a great problem solver, and irreplaceable when it comes to volunteer recruitment – no one can say “no” to Jane’s happy and positive attitude.

” When Covid-19 came on the scene early this year Jane was one of the first directors of our organization that jumped into new and unique ways of fundraising and keeping the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association in front of the public. She not only created drive in Cowboy Church at our fairgrounds, but was also a key component in helping to create and orchestrate a drive through fall fair day at our fairgrounds facility this fall.

“We would like to nominate Jane for this award because of her amazing dedication in helping to raise funds for our association this year, and the amount of time and hard work she has put in to keep the fairground gardens and planters cared for during 2020 for the enjoyment of our members and surrounding community.

“Due to Covid 19 we could not hold our annual Fall Fair and Rodeo event, and we could also not rent our fairgrounds facility due to social distancing requirements. This meant a huge drop in our annual income, which has forced us to use the dollars we do have on hand to keep the doors open and contribute to keeping our monthly commitments covered. Our Association made the decision early in March that if at all possible we would not lock down our 27 acre facility and close the gates because many of our members, as well as residents of our community, use our fairgrounds on a daily basis to walk, cycle, exercise a dog, ride a horse, and most importantly our seniors drive, use a scooter or walk their pets here as well. With Covid-19 the use of the large fairgrounds has been especially important for the public who can easily social distance in this large facility while enjoying the outdoors in a safe and welcoming environment.

“Jane made the environment especially welcoming by personally tending and/or creating outstanding flower gardens and planters, hanging baskets, and an educational flower and vegetable companion garden that has produced everything from cabbage to avocados this year. Jane’s dedication to the gardens has been above and beyond what she originally volunteered for, as due to emergency municipal water system restrictions this year Jane had to hand water all of the gardens and planters, twice a day (almost every day through the summer months due to excessively high temperatures experienced in our area). Jane logged an average of four hours each day (two in the morning and two in the evening) to keep the gardens in tip top shape. She also grew a wide variety of plants and vegetables so that the traveling through public could learn what a ‘companion garden’ was all about. She also enlisted three seniors to lend some assistance with the gardens and in so doing they were provided with a safe and social outlet where social distancing was easy to achieve. Produce from the garden has been sold to raise funds to support keeping the facility open, and vegetables have been donated to those in need as well. Many of the plants are now being left to go to seed, and then the seeds, bulbs and tubers will be saved and put aside to sell in the spring.

“Along with the gardens Jane also headed up a 50/50 raffle to help fundraise to keep our association afloat. She spent many days behind a table at key places in our community selling tickets and keeping track of tickets books that friends and volunteers were selling for her as well. They successfully sold all 4000 tickets, which meant a $10,000 pot for the winner, and $10,000 in the bank for the North Thompson Fall Fair.

“Jane also cares for her own home and family, and somewhere in there also finds time to look after duties as a North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association board member.

“Jane is a key part of our North Thompson Fall Fair & Rodeo Family – she is our special rose.”

Joanne Pettersen:

“Joanne Pettersen is a loyal and steadfast supporter of our organization, and has been for many years. Joanne is truly dedicated to helping make our North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Association and our 27 acre fairgrounds facility all that it can be and more. Joanne has been a volunteer since the first day she paid her membership and over the years has proven herself as a champion for what we are about (educating youth and the public about agriculture, healthy and sustainable living, and community volunteerism). Joanne has always been willing to take on any job that needs doing, and even more so since she joined our board of directors a number of years ago. She is also our Fall Fair commercial booth convener and has brought a new perspective to how we can best manage and profit from this division of our annual event. Most importantly though we would like to recognize Joanne for what she has accomplished on behalf of our organization since March of this year when Covid-19 arrived in Canada. This forced us to cancel our annual September Fall Fair and Rodeo, and has also canceled some 120 other events held at our facility annually. As a result the NTFFRA have been brainstorming throughout this year on how to bring in enough income to keep our doors open and be able to host our annual fair when the time arrives.

“Joanne has met this financial challenge head on, and we cannot thank her enough for stepping up. In the spring she brainstormed with other directors and they came up with a plan to sell tubers and bulbs from our gardens on the fairgrounds. Results of the event was a huge surprise, bringing in just under $1000. Joanne then organized an arrangement with a regional fruit and vegetable grower whereby our organization (Joanne) sells pre-ordered produce online, then the customer picks up their order on a specified day at the fairgrounds where Joanne and the grower deliver the produce fresh picked that morning to the buyers. Joanne has done this throughout the spring, summer, and fall, and is still going strong for plans over the winter as well. She has marketed apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries, strawberries, plums, blueberries, corn, squash, potatoes, fresh squeezed juices, and even organic grocery bags. The program has been an incredible hit and has caused such a huge rush on canning and freezing supplies from our local grocery store and hardware stores. This has also brought many people into gardening and growing their own produce, and Joanne has been a great advocate for sharing her extensive knowledge and tips in those areas. By the end of this year this program has brought in almost $5,000, but most importantly there is a huge offshoot of this program in bringing people into our association, and in the education of sustainability and growing your own food.

“While all this has been going on Joanne has not been still. She has attended two area farmer’s markets every week from April until mid-October where she sells produce and fruit orders, raffle tickets for our association, and also memberships. She has also participated in helping to keep our facility gardens kept up, and then putting them to bed in the fall. She has also sold produce from her own garden to benefit the NTFFRA, and is planning to collect seeds from all our garden beds, as well as more bulbs and tubers, so that she can market them for us in the spring.

“Amidst all this hustle and bustle Joanne (who is a senior) has also managed her own small acreage and done a dozen other jobs for our organization. We would very much like to recognize the unending dedication, ingenuity, hard work, and outstanding volunteerism from Joanne Pettersen. She is so very much appreciated and we want to say, “Thank you Joanne for being such a driving force in helping our organization to survive through Covid-19. You will always be a member of our North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo Family!”