BY RYAN WELLICOME
This year’s Alberta Open Farm Days promises to be filled with things to do for Lacombe County residents as the two-day province-wide event gets underway Aug. 20th.
Five venues across Lacombe County are opening their doors to the public on Aug. 20th and 21st as part of the annual event to promote the rural Alberta economy and agriculture.
The five participating venues are the Lacombe Blacksmith Shop Museum, Flying Cross Ranch, Ellis Bird Farm, Bles-Wold Dairy Farm and High Field Farm.
The Lacombe Blacksmith Shop Museum is participating for its third year, hoping to teach the public about one of civilization’s oldest trades. “We are really excited to have this event coming up and to bring some new people to our blacksmith shop,” said Executive Director of the Lacombe and District Historical Society and Lacombe Tourism Marie Péron.
The museum has a new demonstration this year called a Hammer-In. The museum has also brought together blacksmiths from around Alberta to collaborate on a special project.
The goal of the project is for the blacksmiths to build two benches. One of the benches is to be auctioned off, with the entirety of the proceeds going to the Canadian Red Cross to assist with the Fort McMurray rebuilding effort.
The second bench will be transported and gifted to the community of Fort McMurray as a gesture of goodwill.
The museum will also be holding tours and demonstrations for the public and will be giving away – for a small donation – custom-branded cedar shingles. “It’s a fun way for people to have a keepsake to take home and it’s quite memorable to actually watch your sign getting made,” said Péron.
Péron said that they reached out to the blacksmiths via the Western Canadian Blacksmiths’ Guild and wish to help make connections between apprentices and masters.
“We want to encourage an environment where those who are highly skilled can pass along some of their passion and their knowledge to others who want to know more about blacksmithing and how it’s done,” said Péron.
The Lacombe Blacksmith Shop Museum is located on 49th St in Lacombe, across from Popow & Sons Body Shop.
The Michener House Museum – on 50th St. in Lacombe – will also be holding a few family activities on the Saturday of Open Farm Days.
Flying Cross Ranch, just north of Lacombe, will be opening up its gates for farm goers promising races, steer showing demonstrations, an art show, petting zoo and, “A whole lot of horse stuff,” according to Flying Cross Owner and Operator Roy Sturgeon.
“We plan months and months ahead for some of this stuff to make sure it is good,” he said.
“It’s our fun, you know, we enjoy doing it.”
According to Sturgeon, attendance last year for Open Farm Days was over 600 people and he said this year, “Will be huge.”
Directions to Flying Cross Ranch can be found at www.flyingcrossranch.com on the ‘contact us’ page.
Southeast of Lacombe, the Ellis Bird Farm is offering many walking trails through its vast gardens and also has tours of, “The world’s largest outdoor collection of bluebird boxes.”
The Farm is also offering samplings of local farm products and preserves for those with a culinary inclination.
Ellis Bird Farm is located off Range Road 260, east of Blackfalds.
Bles-Wold and High Field Dairy Farms are open to public eyes and will feature demonstrations of daily dairy farm operations such as milking and feature the ability to visit with baby calves.
Bles-Wold will also be sampling its famous yogurt, produced right on the farm.
More information about Open Farm Days venues and locations can be found at www.albertafarmdays.com.