November 30, 2023

Saturday was the final day of one of Canada’s biggest agricultural shows, Farmfair International.

Exhibitors from across Western Canada gather each year for cattle shows, competitions and clinics.

Organizers says the growing youth attendance is promising for the future of farming, such as youth farmers like Lexi Dietrich, who isn’t a stranger to Farmfair International shows.

“I’ve basically grown up here, I’ve been here since I was in a stroller. I’ve been showing and exhibiting since I was five years old,” said Dietrich.

Now 18 years old, she’s nearing the end of her junior career. While she’s getting ready to move on, she’s keeping a close eye on the next generation.

“It’s truly special, especially seeing those little kids like in this junior futurity, watching them exhibit their own animals,” she said.

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Kids like 4-year-old Greta Pearson, not quite at eye level with her heffer yet, is passionate about her love for cattle and what she does on her farm.

“Halter break them and work on my calf,” said Pearson.

She’s part of a rising crop of up-and-coming junior cattle men and women. That age group is the top growing group at this year’s fair.

“I’m so proud of what this building, what Farmfair International, what this city can do for our rural youth. We’ve seen our numbers just grow dramatically, last year we had about 156 youth. Now we have close to 244,” said Leah Jones, Farmfair International president.

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Farmfair serves as an opportunity for kids to learn more about agriculture and cattle even if they don’t have a farming background.

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“A lot of the people that have been showing here for 40+ years, started as young people. So once they get here, the networks they make, the connections they make and a love for the business, this is where they start and you’ll see them here 40 years from now,” said Jones.

“Alberta Beef is known globally. We have a reputation for quality both in the beef and in the genetics sector. We want to stay at the forefront of that.”

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Having youth interested in cattle now paves the way for the future of farming in Alberta.

Dietrich says she’s thrilled to see her industry growing and more people throwing their hats in the ring.

“I think people are kind of learning a little bit more about what we do and we don’t just lead a cow around the ring. There’s a lot of things that happen behind the scenes as well,” Dietrich said.

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This year’s Farmfair International featured more than 1,500 cattle entries and buyers from 14 different countries.

It returns to the Edmonton EXPO Centre November 6th to 9th, 2024 for its 50th anniversary.

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