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Fall fair boosts buy local campaign

After a one-year break, the Atlantic Agricultural Fall Fair opens with a traditional midway and farm animal shows, and an untraditional trade show for local agri-food businesses.

Buy local and sell global are the new themes of the reimagined Atlantic Agricultural Fall Fair.

Opening for the Thanksgiving weekend, it blends elements of the traditional fair with a day-long trade show and weekend-long consumer expo.

The Atlantic Agricultural Fall Fair takes over from the the Atlantic Winter Fair, which last ran in 2014. Organizers used the year off to review the scope and focus of the event, which is being held at the now privately owned Halifax Exhibition Centre on Prospect Road.

The Saltscapes Group was hired in January as event managers. Owners Linda and Jim Gourlay bring their exposition expertise and their support of the farm-to-table movement and Nova Scotia businesses to the fair.

"We were approached last fall by the Atlantic agricultural community to start to look at a new and revitalized agricultural event that would take some of the core components from our own Saltscapes expo, which has an agri-food focus with a very strong buy local agenda, ... and bring together farm families, primary producers and agri-food industry in one area," said Linda Gourlay.

tk100616fair3Children enjoy checking out farm animals at the fall fair on Thursday. (TIM KROCHAK / Local Xpress)

Visitors to the fair will have access to more than 100 exhibitors at the Commit to Local Pavilion, which will feature farmers, small craft businesses, wineries, distilleries, and specialty food producers. There is a midway, equestrian competitions, a beef and farm dog show, and demonstrations on reducing food waste, cooking tips, the Meet Your Farmer pavilion, and the Little Barnyard petting zoo.

On Thursday, before the 4 p.m. public opening, a number of local agri-food and acquaculture companies participated in the fair's first trade show. Taste of Nova Scotia brought in retail, restaurant, and institutional buyers from Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico, Iceland, U.S., and Colombia to taste products and meet local business representatives.

"I'm a business person who is very much focused on how do we survive in this economy. ... We hope the producers and buyers build a long-term business relationship," said Gourlay.

A representative of Van Dyk's Health Juice Products Ltd. met with buyers from Iceland, Colombia and the U.S.

"I am cautiously optimistic. The initial meet and greet is great but now the work begins; the follow up, the pricing, and logistics," said Randy MacDonald, business manager with Van Dyk's.

The Caledonia, Queens County, company is a wild blueberry grower and the juice is a value-added product the company developed in 2000. He said the company exports to the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

"The international export market is our growth opportunity," said MacDonald.

Also on Thursday, 500 students attended a locally produced lunch, hosted by Saltscapes food editor chef Alain Bosse. 

For information on the fair and a schedule of events, visit

- Potatoes have an impressive protein count — about 2.1 per cent on a fresh weight basis — the highest protein count of all tubers. They are high in Vitamin C, fibre, potassium and iron.
- When you purchase a bottle of Nova Scotia wine, almost 80 per cent of the money spent stays in Nova Scotia.
- Nova Scotia farmers produced the majority of hemp to make ropes for use during the First World War.
- It takes 40 litres of maple sap to make one litre of maple syrup.


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Christine Soucie Madill

About the Author: Christine Soucie Madill

Christine Soucie Madill has been a reporter and editor for 30 years. She has an interest in history, in particular the First World War.
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