Bentley Agricultural Society
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The Bentley & District Agricultural Society became the umbrella under which three primary groups came together for a summer weekend of fun, food, education and celebration for the whole community. The original Certificate of Organization was granted in March 1974 by the Minister of Agriculture. The summer weekend of fun, eventually became the Bentley and District Agricultural Society, Town and Country Fair and Rodeo.
On August 7, 1963, a parade, organized by the Sunset Hills Riding Club marched down the main street of Bentley. Every parade needs a “whip-cracking Parade Marshall. Barbara Anderson coached a young teenager, Joanne Butcher,(nee Baumbach) for the duty. She has kept many great parades organized and continues to do so today. To make sure the word spread far and wide, a truck mounted with speakers drove through Gull Lake Campground early in the morning, announcing the breakfast. Campers followed the truck back into town like the Pied Piper.
Then the “Rodeo” came in 1966, sponsored by the Bentley Elks on the Thursday and Friday evenings.
Needed was a “Town and Country Fair” to fill in the space for the afternoon. Committees of volunteers came together and organized the Bench Shows. Every local organization, service club and church group sponsored an event or activity.
Over the years many unique activities were part of the event, the Fair hosted a Little Red Barn with livestock including exotic chickens, Mrs. Beasley – a brown Swiss-Holstein cross cow, could be milked, Rosie Nelson brought sheep, and Squeeky the donkey was available for rides. Many cattle breeds were represented at the cattle show including Charolais, Horned and Polled Herefords, Angus and Shorthorns, all of which were being raised by area residents. Doug’s Exotic Zoo came with zoo animals and Ellis Bird Farm brought a display.
Not only animals were part of the entertainment, as a quad/lawn tractor race was held for several years, and the Outlet Get Together Club sponsored a pie social for seniors. Young people were not forgotten, as a mini tractor pull took place in the Elks parking lot. Shut-ins at the hospital were entertained by a clown, who then put on a children’s show along with community members painting faces for the young. Midways were brought in for several years, and pony rides were available.
Some of the events have come & gone as interest cycled, but one constant has remained – the event always follows the long weekend in August, and is eagerly anticipated and attended by area residents and distant visitors.
- Western Culture
5202 53 Street Bentley, AB