Orford & Highgate Agricultural Society gate at the fairgrounds. (Photo by Simon Crouch) Orford & Highgate Agricultural Society gate at the fairgrounds. (Photo by Simon Crouch)

Local agricultural society hoping to earn $25K prize

The Highgate District Agricultural Society needs the community's help to win $25,000.

The local ag society was nominated and has been selected by the BASF Growing Home contest as one of the top three organizations in Ontario, making it eligible for the provincial prize.

BASF's Growing Home community giving contest began in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba last year and was expanded to include Ontario in 2024.

More than 600 organizations were nominated between February 20 and March 18, with a judging panel narrowing it down to three per province after the nomination period ended.

Each province will have a prize winner who will take home $25,000, that winner will be decided by a public vote.

Brad Gosnell, a board member of the Highgate District Agricultural Society, said as soon as he realized the contest had been expanded to include Ontario, he knew he had to send in a nomination.

"The Highgate Fair has been part of my life for as long as I can recall. I remember participating as an exhibitor when I was younger, and now seeing my children – and grandchildren – doing the same puts a huge smile on my face," Gosnell said.

"With so many community organizations facing challenges these days, and the disappearance of organizations that shaped our community, it's more important than ever that we support groups like the Highgate District Agricultural Society," he added.

The Highgate District Agricultural Society has been around for 170 years. On top of organizing and presenting the local agricultural fair and other events throughout the year, the ag society maintains the local community park, including venue spaces, sporting and recreation facilities, and children's play areas.

The society is looking at where best to invest the prize money, including long term maintenance to the park facilities, enhancements to their annual fall fair, and community programs to give back to agricultural based organizations such as 4H Canada as well as youth involved in agricultural education.

"As we celebrate our 170th anniversary this year we look forward to the many activities planned for 2024 and for many, many years to come. On behalf of our organization and our entire community, I want to thank you for considering supporting our nomination for this year's BASF Growing Home award. Thank you," said the president of the Highgate District Agricultural Society, Jeff Mardling.

Anyone wishing to do so can cast a vote until April 15. Voting can be done here.

The other two finalists for Ontario are the Three Oaks Respite Cabin and Norfolk Little People's Daycare.

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