Russell weighs in at Beef and Barley Festival

scale_168720557_THINSTOCK.jpgIt isn’t the weight of grain or livestock being verified by the numbers on the scale at a local elevator at Russell’s Beef and Barley Days next week.

It’s the combined weight of Russell townsfolk hoping to bag a $500 prize for shedding a few pounds among them.

Five-member teams of friends and co-workers have signed up for the Big Beefy Weigh-In, a five-week challenge and new event introduced this year at the town’s annual Beef and Barley Festival which kicks off Oct. 7.

Since Sept. 3 when participating teams first stepped up to be weighed on the family-owned elevator scale at Fairfield Land ’N Cattle, they’ve been collectively lunging and crunching and conscientiously munching on healthy snacks to drop a few pounds.

Russell’s festival committee was presented with the idea by a local resident who’d heard a similar event went over well in Esterhazy, Sask., said Gillian Potter, co-chair of the 2013 festival and member of the RBC team signed up for the weigh-in.

Russell residents clearly liked the idea of this team- and health-focused activity, said Potter. They signed up 10 teams of five right away.

“We have 50 people taking part, which we’re really happy about,” she said.

People were attracted to the idea because it enables them to support friends, family and co-workers to adopt and enjoy a generally healthier lifestyle together, she said.

The teams have gathered every Tuesday since their early-September weigh-in for coaching, motivation and fitness advice offered by local fitness company The Living Room Studio, the event’s co-sponsor alongside Fairfield Land ’N Cattle.

Weight lost lessens the load of their team, but no one is asked to reveal how much they lose individually.

“So you have people rooting for you to help you create a better lifestyle. But no one is singled out.”

People are evidently having lots of fun with this too.

“Let’s just say some teams are trying to sabotage others. For instance, another team sent us (the RBC team) doughnuts the other day. People are really getting into the spirit of this,” Potter said.

They are even considering adding a ‘maintenance division’ to the challenge so participants can earn points towards a prize for maintaining a healthy weight.

“Because it’s not always about weight loss,” Potter said. “Sometimes it’s about maintaining where you are and being physically active.

“I can see this evolve over the next couple of Beef and Barleys to get more and more people maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

This is the 41st year for Russell’s Beef and Barley Festival in Russell, a local October celebration of the region’s dual agricultural traditions of grain farming and cattle ranching. The week’s events run October 7 to October 13. More information about the Beef and Barley Festival is found at

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



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