Categories: Entertainment

Horsing around allowed

Alberta farms and ranches are raising hay this weekend with the return of Open Farm Days. The two-day event swings out the gates on more than 100 host sites where city slickers can stretch their legs in a dirt field and take in the sights, sounds, culinary delights and other wild experiences that you can only get in a rural setting.

“Saddle up for a countryside road trip to meet the producers who grow your food and the chefs who help make it taste great,” said Ricardo Miranda, the province’s minister of culture and tourism.

The event, now in its fifth year, is not only a celebration of the rural lifestyle but also an invitation to step outside of the cities and learn about where our food actually comes from. Each site will offer something unique in terms of an agricultural behind-the-scenes opportunity with family-friendly enticements including hayrides, petting zoos, educational tours, and vendor stations where you can buy locally grown and made products.

There will also be close to two-dozen locations that will have some delicious culinary offerings on the table. Of the many places to visit, there are three locations that are relatively close to St. Albert and Morinville. Sprout Farms is an apple orchard in Bon Accord, and Prairie Gardens has a popular corn maze and operates an adventure farm nearby.

“Alberta has a well-earned reputation for high-quality agricultural products, thanks to the hard work and commitment to excellence of our forward-thinking producers and agri-businesses. Open Farm Days is a great opportunity for Albertans to learn more about how our food is produced and how our province’s agri-food industry is growing and evolving,” said Oneil Carlier, the minister of agriculture and forestry.

There’s also Minds Eye Ranch, a busy equestrian training facility near RiviÈre Qui Barre. Attendees can watch demonstrations of three-day eventing including dressage, show jumping and cross-country as given by local riders.

It’s the facility’s first time being involved in the province-wide promotional event.

“We’re very busy with people coming to practice. This year, we decided we’ll just make a special effort to present what it is we do here, showcase the sport a little bit, and give some coach profiles so people can see what some of the coaches are up to, lots of pictures, and demos,” explained Monica Warrener, one of the owners and operators of the ranch.

Minds Eye will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday only.

Open Farm Days is a collaboration between the province, the non-profit agricultural educational group Ag for Life, the Alberta Association of Agricultural Societies, Travel Alberta, and participating farms, ranches and agricultural societies.

Admission to the farms is free, but there may be some costs for the different activities offered. People should visit http://albertafarmdays.com/ see the full scope of places to go and things to do. The website offers a trip planner to make things a little easier too.

Scott Hayes: Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.