How long has the Eaglesham and District Agricultural Society been around?
Our local society was incorporated in 1971.
How did the society start?
In the early 1970s, there was a push from the Government of Alberta to increase recreational infrastructure in rural communities, and agricultural societies – due to their unique mandate – were chosen as the vehicle to accomplish that goal.
How many members do you currently have?
At the moment we have 12 directors in addition to active volunteers who are willing to sit on committees and help with events.
What is the main purpose of the Eaglesham and District Agricultural Society?
We are a group of community builders, and we desire for the quality of life to improve for people in our agricultural community through communication, events and learning opportunities. We own and operate a park on the southside of Eaglesham, which has trails, a playground, a ball diamond, an outdoor riding arena, bathrooms and a group campsite. The whole facility is available for rent. Overall, we help make our rural area a welcoming place to live and visit.
How have you been able to fundraise in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, or have you been able to?
Fundraising events have been limited lately. We are raising funds to build a 30ft-by-70ft sun shelter in the middle of the park. We have been successful with a couple of grants for rural communities. In October 2021, we received $24,300 from the UFA Rural Communities Foundation. In December 2021, we also received $10,000 from Nutrien’s In & About Our Communities campaign. We are grateful and encouraged by the help we have received.
The Eaglesham and District Ag Society is in charge of the Birch Bark Newsletter as well. How long has that been running, and what was the original decision to start up the Birch Bark Newsletter?
The Birch Bark Newsletter started in 2012, the same year as the 50th Eaglesham Fair. Extra effort and organization were put into that special anniversary event, so extra communication and promotion was needed as well. The newsletter goes into every mailbox in Birch Hills County 11 times a year. When I was relatively new to the area, I was disappointed more than once at missing out on or learning about events after the fact. Our newsletter provides events listing to all groups in the County free of charge. We ask that you have your information to our editor, Christina Gorius Wright, by the 25th of each month. Over the years, we have done business spotlights and highlighted other organizations. Digital copies of the newsletter are archived on the Birch Hills County website and our website as well as shared on our Facebook page.
Do you feel the society’s purpose remains as relevant as it used to be in today’s Internet-connected society?
Connection and communication are so important for people. It’s super ironic that in an era of increased technology and digital connectivity, people are more isolated than ever. It’s becoming harder and harder to know your neighbours. Community groups can help break through isolation and help people find each other. Memories are made in real life. Volunteering is a great way to get to know people. A few years back, we shifted our focus away from having one big event in the summer to having several seasonal celebrations. This spreads the work out across the year and has provided more chances for people to connect. More-frequent, smaller events have helped us stay relevant.
Our activities and contests showcase local people and their talents – from photography to beautiful yards and Christmas light displays, growing pumpkins, climbing obstacles, running races, and completing scavenger hunts. Our society creates opportunities for locals to laugh and learn, compete and celebrate together.
How are you attracting new members?
“Ag society” is a bit of a misnomer. One might assume you need to be a farmer or connected to agriculture to belong. This is not true. Anyone over 18 with an interest in improving our community or volunteering at events are welcome to join us. It’s one of the best ways to meet a variety of people in our area. We especially love new ideas. Our meetings are advertised in the Birch Bark Newsletter and usually take place on the first Wednesday of the month at 7pm. Come and join us.
What is the biggest accomplishment you have been proud of as a society?
I am most proud of our partnerships with other community groups. We love it when we have events that have multiple community groups participating and partnering. It feels good to work together and help each other. Best memories include the straw dummy PTO demonstration at our Farm Safety Day where the Eaglesham School and the four Hutterite colonies in our County brought their kids for an interactive educational day at our park. Another recent highlight was the 2019 Run/Walk Club. People met up weekly for fresh air, fitness and coffee, and we concluded the training at our local Spring Scurry 5km Event.
What do you hope for in 2022?
The push is on to get the sun shelter built at the park. We are pleased to be able to rent the park for family reunions, class reunions and other campouts. Our park is ideal for horse events because the outdoor riding arena is sheltered on all sides from the wind. We are also in the planning stages of creating serviced campsites at the park, including a sanidump. We will continue to partner with our community as its needs grow and change.
- Location: PO Box 207, Eaglesham, AB
- Phone: (780) 837-4783
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.eaglesham.biz