Forty-one years ago, on a crisp and cold winter morning in 1977, Hans Rindlisbacher packed up his own handmade forage display and headed off to the Brandon Weed Fair.
He did know he hoped to educate farmers in attendance on the different varieties of grass common to Manitoba. What he didn’t know was that this would be the first of what will be 41 annual pilgrimages to what later became Ag Days.
“I’m looking forward to the show,” says Rindlisbacher, who now pitches in his time and vast grass and forage expertise at the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association booth. “It’s the highlight of my winter. I’ve been to every single event; it used to be called the Weed Fair. They have all been very good. I enjoy it every year.”
During that first show the now-retired longtime resident of Brandon was present in his role as a provincial grassland technician.
Today he marvels at the transformation into Manitoba Ag Days, Canada’s largest indoor ag show, over the 41 years it has been held and says he continues to enjoy volunteering at the show. He really enjoys when the Agriculture in the Classroom students are there to learn more about agriculture and pop by the booth.
“I like to talk to the kids about agriculture,” he said. “They come from all over. It’s always interesting how they react.”
Those close to the show will tell you that volunteers make Manitoba Ag Days possible. Organizers, exhibitors, retailers, and venue managers will all confirm: no volunteers, no show.
Fortunately, over the years, Manitoba Ag Days is supported by a battalion of volunteers from all walks of life who spend countless hours preparing, organizing and brainstorming how best they will help the show, their home association, new product, invention or their home community bask in the spotlight. Many of these volunteers have been around for a long time and have contributed so much of their free time to make the event special. By pitching in year after year, many have crafted their own stories.
Kristen Phillips, Manitoba Ag Days general manager, adds her voice to the chorus singing the praises of the volunteers.
“Our board is made up of 13 board members who put in hundreds of hours behind the scenes,” Phillips said. “We also have 20 volunteers who help with the show as volunteer show staff and they predominantly work the info booths, 50/50 booth, plus usher the theatres for us.”
That team is led by Kathy Birmingham and those interested in volunteering for Ag Days should email her at [email protected].