By Amanda Brodhagen
After winning the bid to host the provincial event called Sing Swing about a year ago, Grey County Junior Farmers have been busy planning to host members from across the province.
According to Barclay Nap of Wellington County, records show that Grey County has never hosted Sing Swing in the history of Junior Farmers. Nap, a proud Junior Farmer alumni member oversees the archives for Junior Farmers in the province, a volunteer position.
The event held annually at the end of November is a competition among Junior Farmer clubs that consist of a number of activities, including square dancing, two-stepping waltz, jive, alternative dance, public speaking, signing, musical instruments, baking, home crafting and more. In addition, there’s a popular euchre tournament, Gong show and a mystery event.
“My favourite competition would be a tossup between the baking competitions and the gong show,” said Nic Weber, president of JFAO.
Clubs try and enter as many categories as possible to gain points with the hopes of winning awards at the ceremony and showcasing the top performers at the banquet.
“A highlight of hosting was seeing all of the hard work of planning that went into the event and it finally coming together,” said Christine Wyville, Grey County Junior Farmer member and chair of the Sing Swing committee.
Middlesex County earned bragging rights for the year as they walked away with top club overall.
“Our club enjoys competing at Sing Swing each year as we are reminded of the talents of our members,” said Ashleigh Beacham, assistant provincial director for Middlesex County Junior Farmers.
With most provincial events, members carpool with their clubs to events, dances and competitions. While in the area, Middlesex County went roller skating in Neustadt. “I love going to Junior Farmer events across Ontario as we get to see small towns across the province and go places we wouldn't otherwise have,” said Beacham.
After the Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario lost provincial funding in the 1990s it’s been solely funded by sponsorships and donations. “None of our events provincially or locally would be possible without the generous donations of our community members and businesses,” said Wyville.
Wyville says that Junior Farmers is full of opportunities not only locally but provincially and abroad through their exchange program. “Junior Farmers is not only an organization that strives to give back to our community but also strives to educate people about agriculture and have a little bit of fun along the way,” she said.
Bids to host next year’s Sing Swing event are being accepted this month. The next big events for JFAO include the Past President’s Roast held January 4 in Elmira for Erich Weber and the Winter Games held February 8 in Woodstock.
Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario is a youth organization that welcomes people between the ages of 15 and 29. While members tend to be rural youth, anyone can join. For more information visit http://www.jfao.on.ca/about-jfao.
1st place, Middlesex; 2nd place, Carleton and 3rd place, Wellington.
Carleton: baking, dancing and woodworking
University of Guelph: vocal, instrumental, public speaking and gong show
Middlesex: spelling b, lip-sync battle, photography and sewing
Wellington: metalworking, needle work and visual arts. ◊