I take my hat off to all the machinery exhibitors who show their wares at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show (OVFS). Taking huge farm equipment to Ottawa, getting it parked inside the building and then taking it home after the three-day show is a huge undertaking. And who do you see sitting up in a $750,000 combine or in a $400,000 tractor? Well, school kids of course. Where else can parents take their kids and have them sit high up in a high-tech gigantic polished showroom machine or on a small utility tractor?
A former county warden from the London area, who is also a farmer, told me the show is much bigger and better than the London Farm Show. It was his first visit to the Ottawa show and he was very impressed. He said the London show has machinery in two smaller buildings. “This is great, everything is under one roof,” he said. “And parking is right on site.”
Let’s compare the two spring farm shows both held in March. The London Farm Show is sponsored by Farm Credit Corporation. It’s held March 7-9. It’s billed as the largest spring farm show in Eastern Canada. Is it really? It has 320 exhibitors, 30 fewer than OVFS. Admission is higher at $16 ($13 for seniors), compared to Ottawa (online tickets $9 or $12 at the door). There’s no parking onsite in London. Free shuttle buses pick folks up at a number of places in London. London has numerous educational seminars. One of the featured speakers is Moe Agostino, well known for his grain marketing talks. But the London show doesn’t have a championship seed, feed and forage show, which Ottawa is well known for.
The OVFS is the place to talk to representatives from seed, feed, fertilizer and chemical companies, financial institutions, anything ag high-tech, anything farming, and all the major machinery companies are under one roof at the 150,000 square-ft. EY Centre on Uplands Drive adjacent to Ottawa International Airport. Farmers Forum newspaper has a booth at the show, as do the other agricultural publications.
I was intrigued by a very complex vertical tillage machine. Curious about the price, I was told it’s around $150,000 and it would take a 300-horsepower tractor to pull it.
The OVFS is Ontario’s longest running agricultural trade show. From the beginning, it has been organized by farmers for farmers on a non-profit basis. The OVFS traces those humble beginnings back to 1927, to the Town of Renfrew.
It was there that the newly formed Ottawa Valley Seed Growers Association sponsored its first local seed fair at Renfrew Collegiate high school. The primary objective was consistent with today’s main purpose: To assist in producing, grading, selling and distributing high class and registered seed.
The OVFS championship seed, feed and forage show is an annual event at the OVFS and is a very classy one. It is the championship show for Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. To qualify for entry, the exhibits must be approved and entered by a county seed show, or the Ottawa Valley Seed, Feed and Forage Championship Show committee.
Competition is open to those in the following counties: Argenteuil, Carleton, Dundas, Frontenac, Gatineau, Glengarry, Grenville, Hastings, Labelle, Lachute, Lanark, Leeds, Lennox & Addington, Papineau, Pontiac, Prescott, Prince Edward, Renfrew, Russell & Stormont.
All exhibits must have been exhibited at a county or district Seed Show in 2018. If the county or district does not have a seed show, the exhibits must be approved and entered by the local Soil and Crop Improvement Association and only qualifying entries are forwarded to the championship show in Ottawa.
I have been an exhibitor at the show since the early 1970s, entering in the hay classes. It’s a stiff competition and a prodigious challenge. It’s one of the reasons I attend the show every year.
Maynard van der Galien is a Renfrew-area crop farmer. He placed first in legume hay at the farm show this year.