The deadline for entry has passed for some communities, and in others, a Fall Fair Ambassador has already been chosen.
A veteran agricultural society volunteer said in an interview last week that vying for a Fall Fair Ambassador title is often misunderstood.
“The role of the ambassador isn’t what people think it is,” said Jeanine Wallace, who was herself a Fall Fair Ambassador and also won the Canadian National Exhibition crown as well that year. She has since then helped the Fergus Agricultural Society run its ambassador program.
“It’s a community role,” she said. “The ambassadors promote the agricultural society wherever they go.”
She added that there are definite personal benefit.
“It’s a real education,” she said, explaining that the ambassador meets a lot of people who are not from a farm background.
Plus, she said, “You learn a lot about agriculture and its importance in the community. Every year, we hear the same comments from ambassadors. They’re always amazed at how much work it takes – and how much fun it is.”
Wallace said, “It’s a promotional role. It’s an educational role. The ambassador learns a lot.” She said the Fergus Fall Fair is 174 years old this year, and, “There’s definitely an historical part to it.”
The ambassador program has been running now for 32 years. And, Wallace asserted, “It’s not about wearing a crown and sash. It’s not a beauty contest.”
In fact, several young men have won the title in Fergus.
She said most ambassador competitions are “about finding that person who has a passion for the community and wants to connect to the agricultural society.”
Fair ambassadors have a year long job of attending society meetings, doing promotional work such as riding in parades and meeting clubs and groups, and generally promoting agriculture.
Wallace herself now has a job with Adfair Guelph, doing public relations, a skill she honed as an ambassador.
There are plenty of others, too, who contribute to agriculture after being part of the ambassador program.
She cited Rebecca Hannam, who decided in her year as ambassador that she wanted to see more young faces involved with the agricultural society.
Wallace said, “Now, there are three junior directors at the table. They [the Fergus Agricultural Society] rewrote the constitution” to make room for young people on the board of directors.
Vanessa Dirksen had already had an impact. This year, the Fergus Fall Fair will have a lawn tractor pull she is working on.
Wallace said, “That came from a junior director. She said Taylor Black is working on a new website for the fall fair.”
Wallace said that “one of the biggest highlights is to go to the CNE.” She said that was more a fun part of the job of ambassador. “It’s a great opportunity to promote your community.”
One former ambassador has demonstrated a commitment to the community and to the society. Andrew Taylor won the ambassador title in 2005. This year, he is the president of the Fergus Agricultural Society.
Fergus Fall Fair is seeking its 2010 Ambassador.
It is a common misconception that the ambassador of the Fergus Fall Fair has to come from a farm. This is not the case.
The only requirement for becoming the ambassador is that entrants are at least 17 years of age as of Aug. 1 and are an enthusiastic individual who would like the opportunity to represent an agricultural society that is older than Canada.
Outgoing Ambassador Jeremy Parkinson said, “I have been fortunate enough to represent the Fergus Agricultural Society for the past year and my time as ambassador has been more than I ever thought it could be. Meeting hundreds of new faces at elementary schools, the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies convention, and, of course, over the fair weekend has given me the opportunity to create new friendships and network.”
He added, “Being able to interact with the Centre Wellington community at various events including the Home Show, Santa Claus parades, and the coming Scottish Festival and Highland Games has helped me to feel like I am doing my part to give back to a community that has given me so much …
“I realize it takes dedicated individuals to make the fair a success each and every year.”
If being an Ambassador sounds of interest give either Parkinson a call at 519-821-6954 or Moyer at 519-638-5115.