Brussels Little/Junior Ambassador programs gaining steam - Farm 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
In just a few years, the Brussels Fall Fair Little and Junior Ambassador program has taken off, drawing in community youth to be part of the fair.
Sandra Cable, a long-time area minister and member of the Brussels Agricultural Society, was the catalyst behind the program, introducing it to Brussels in 2016. Since then, over a dozen young people have thrown their hats into the ring, wanting to be either the Little or Junior Ambassador for the Brussels Fall Fair.
In 2016, it was brothers James and Ben Speer who were named the Little and Junior Ambassador, respectively. Since then, local youth have stepped up to take the role, wanting to be involved in their community and their local fall fair.
Cable says she has really been impressed with the uptake of the program in the years since she introduced it. It has really worked to get some smart, enthusiastic and mature children out in the community and working for the Brussels Agricultural Society.
It was when Cable was in her former home of Forest that she first saw a junior ambassador program working. Her granddaughter was in the running for the local fall fair ambassador position and she saw there was an ambassador program for younger participants and she thought it would be an excellent fit for Brussels.
She returned to Brussels and raised it with other members of the Brussels Agricultural Society and they all agreed with her and she worked to implement it right away.
Cable took the lead on the program, getting the word out and developing the application process, which is an essay contest in which contestants submit an essay anonymously so they can be judged blindly, and lining up judges for the competition.
The results in the first year were positive, Cable said, with a number of applicants wanting to represent the society at the fair. In the end, it was the Speer brothers who were chosen, going on to help at the fair and making a number of public appearances on behalf of the society.
The competition held steady for the next two years, attracting high-quality contestants every year and now it’s entering its fourth year this spring when the society will begin accepting entries.
Cable says that she and the judges are consistently impressed with the quality of essays being submitted by young people wanting to be ambassadors. That intelligence and maturity then manifests itself at the annual Brussels Ambassador night at the Brussels Legion, when the winners are welcomed onto the stage alongside the ambassador contestants.
Cable says she thinks the competition has been a success in its first three years, bringing younger faces into the fair and teaching them the ropes at an early age.
She has heard from several of the younger ambassadors that attending regular Brussels Agricultural Society meetings has given them an appreciation for the amount of work that goes into hosting the Brussels Fall Fair year after year. Instilling that awareness in a young person and showing them all the work that goes into hosting the fair at that age, Cable said, is no small feat.
While Cable brought the young ambassador program to the society and took the reins in the first year, Maggie Speer of Brussels, a former ambassador herself, has really stepped up to be Cable’s first-in-command in recent years, bringing so much to the competition.
Speer, the mother of Ben and James, is very dedicated to the Brussels Fall Fair, Cable said, and has been a huge asset to the young ambassador program, helping it to thrive the last few years.
“She’s lively and bubbly and just a joy to work with,” Cable said of Speer. It also helps, Cable said, that there is a clear division of labour. Speer has moved to working directly with the Little and Junior Ambassadors, while Cable does much of her work on the program behind the scenes.
This spring, the pair will be looking for another set of young people hoping to take up the mantles of Little and Junior Ambassador. Entries will open in late April or early May. In June, Cable or Speer, along with this year’s Little Ambassador Kaleigh McCallum and Junior Ambassador Maddy Bernard, will make their way out to schools to try and drum up some interest. In the past, they have visited North Woods Elementary School and Maitland River Elementary School in hopes of introducing more young people to the competition.
As for how the program has enriched the Brussels Fall Fair, Cable thinks that plenty has been added as a result of bringing younger people into the fold.
By introducing young people to essay writing, public speaking, working with adults, being on stage and helping with smaller tasks at the Brussels Fall Fair like presenting awards or helping with the opening night dog show, the program has worked to help them improve their lives in a variety of areas.
Whether it’s getting comfortable speaking to a group or being on stage or taking direction from society members, Cable thinks the program has helped in many ways. Plus, she’s hoping that it’s helping to prepare younger students for potentially returning for the ambassador competition, though it hasn’t happened just yet.
For more information on the Brussels Agricultural Society or the Brussels Fall Fair, visit the website at brusselsfallfair.ca. To become involved in the Little or Junior Ambassador competition, e-mail Cable at firstname.lastname@example.org.