Brussels Agricultural Society honours Murray Hoover for 70 years at AGM
BY SCOTT STEPHENSON
The Brussels Agricultural Society convened for its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Friday, Jan. 19 at the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre. The AGM was pushed back by one week from its originally-scheduled date because of inclement and stormy winter weather.
The evening began with a hearty and plentiful potluck supper. Past-President Zoellyn Onn told The Citizen that the Brussels Agricultural Society enjoys a well-known reputation for serving up one of the area’s most consistently delicious potluck suppers. Empty plates and smiling faces around the room appeared to support Onn’s claim.
After supper, Society President Reg Vinnicombe called the meeting to order. Huron East Councillor Justin Morrison brought greetings on behalf of council saying, “We certainly see the benefit and the work that the Ag. Society does within Brussels for the Fall Fair and the various other educational based things in agriculture. We see that as an asset and we like to support the Ag. Society as much as we can.”
In subsequent remarks, Ontario Association of Agricultural Society (OAAS) District 8 Representative Jentje Steenbeek said, “I’m excited to be here on behalf of the entire provincial board, as well as our staff at the OAAS. Thank you for the invite!” Steenbeek commended the assembly of society members on the tremendous success of the 2023 Fall Fair and wished them the best in the coming year.
In a repeat of the previous year, Sophia Burkholder took home the prize for the most points accrued in the junior section at the 2023 Fall Fair. Joan and David Perrie awarded Burkholder with her prize, with Joan beaming, “We’re very proud of you [Sophia] and we hope you are proud of yourself. You did a great job…thank you for participating in the fair.” Burkholder also received recognition for the most points overall at the 2023 Fall Fair. Dwayne VanRavenswaay from the Brussels Optimist Club was on hand to present this honour to Burkholder.
In special recognition of his long-term membership with the Brussels Agricultural Society, Vinnicombe called upon Murray Hoover to receive a certificate of meritorious service from the OAAS. Hoover, whose involvement with the organization dates back 70 years, said, “It has been quite a journey. It started out in Grade 3. I have to give credit to our public school teachers in those years for promoting participation in the fair.” Hoover reminisced about helping his mother with her baking for the fair on a woodstove and that he was in charge of keeping the heat consistent.
Luanne McGregor, Huron County’s 2022-2023 Queen of the Furrow, offered remarks as the evening’s special guest speaker. McGregor discussed her tenure as Queen of the Furrow, work she has done in the agricultural industry and recent experiences participating in the Ontario Rural Institute’s Rural Change Makers program. McGregor’s speech was very well received by the room. In offering gratitude to McGregor, Vinnicombe said, “[the Rural Change Makers] program is great for the county. I think young adults will be a lot more willing to come forward to get involved in volunteer organizations if they are being approached by someone that’s similar to them in age, rather than us older guys telling them that they should become involved. When it’s coming from their peers, I think it’s a lot more impactful and hopefully we’ll be able to ignite the spirit in a bunch of young adults to not only join our Ag. Society, but other volunteer organizations in our community.”
Loretta Higgins, the 2023 Brussels Fall Fair Ambassador, updated society members on the activities of each of the ambassadors. Higgins described a flurry of activity and responsibilities that kept her and the other ambassadors busy throughout the fall. Higgins just recently began teacher’s college and is looking forward to attending the OAAS conference in February.
Treasurers John Lowe and Glenda Morrison provided a financial update. Lowe said, “Our TD account has $6,271.23 and if you’re thinking ‘boy, that’s low’ well we did transfer over $10,000 into the Manulife Advantage account, so it sits at $12,749.91.”
A lively debate followed to choose the theme for the 2025 Fall Fair. The main contenders were “Grow It, Sow It and Show It”, “Country Roots and Cowboy Boots”, and “Overalls and Aprons”. A very close vote resulted in the selection of “Overalls and Aprons”.
Homecraft President Linda Garland and Vice-President Marie McCutcheon led a discussion about new ways to attract members to join the organization. The pair suggested organizing a special event to be held in the springtime that would focus on families who don’t have previous experience participating in the Fall Fair.