United States Ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft was all smiles as she wound her way through the animals and exhibits at the Calgary Stampede’s Aggie Days on Friday, April 13, 2018. In Calgary for a short visit, she spent some time touring the Nutrien Western Event Centre with David Sibbald, Calgary Stampede President & Chairman of the Board.
For Craft, the experience was a chance to return to her rural roots, while learning about the Stampede’s many educational experiences they provide to youth in southern Alberta every year.
“I learned the importance of agriculture from a young age. It’s great to see the Calgary Stampede encourage youth to learn about sustainable food production and food security, a shared U.S./ Canada goal,” said Craft.
Aggie Days has been bringing the farm to the city for 33 years. This year, more than 30,000 school children and families visited Stampede Park to connect with local producers and learn where their food comes from.
“Aggie Days provides an important link between the city and the agri-food industry, helping the community make connections about where their food comes from.” said Brenda Ralston, Chair of the Agriculture Education committee, a dedicated group of volunteers who are the driving force behind Aggie Days.
Growing up in rural Kentucky, Ambassador Craft was right at home as she got up close and personal with the animals on display. With some of her favourite exhibits being the swine, goat and chuckwagon displays.
From greens to goats, chickens to canola, the 2018 edition of Aggie Days offered up over 50 interactive displays and experiences to visitors of all ages April 11-15. With the first three days reserved for local schools, more than 9,000 students were able to take part in this hands-on learning experience with their classes in 2018. Fun, free of charge, and directly connected to the Alberta School Curriculum, Aggie Days is often called the “best field trip ever!”
In the midst of what seemed like a never-ending winter, guests got a little taste of spring– thanks to a brand new greenhouse exhibit. This unique addition to Aggie Days allowed guests to learn about the process of plant to plate and make the connection between a strawberry plant and jam. With a variety of plants like tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, strawberries, lettuce and corn, supplied by Professional Gardener, the greenhouse showed guests the plants in various stages of growth and how to grow them at home. As a special treat, courtesy of West Coast Seeds, visitors were provided take home seed packages to try their hand at growing themselves.
A very special part of Aggie Days each year is the Giddy-Up Breakfast. The Calgary Stampede Agriculture Education committee and Queen’s Alumni committee proudly partner for this unique event, by providing a breakfast to special needs children and their families before the doors open on Saturday morning. The Giddy-Up Breakfast gives them the opportunity to interact with the animals and exhibitors in a more private and intimate environment.
“We are so proud of all of the experiences Aggie Days offers to all members of our community,” says Ralston, adding “There is a growing gap between consumers and producers and it’s important for the Stampede to continue to work to bridge that gap.”
Many of the exhibits seen at Aggie Days will return during the Calgary Stampede, July 6-15, 2018. And with them, we hope to see the return of curious crowds, excited to experience agricultural activities and meet amazing animals. See you there!