Today’s blog is submitted by AdFarm, a marketing and communications agency focused in the agriculture industry. AdFarm spoke with Danielle and Debbie Lee about the upcoming Aggie Days and their commitment to agricultural education.
This week, Calgary Stampede Aggie Days volunteer Danielle Lee celebrates the event’s 30th year – shortly after her own 30th birthday. She hasn’t missed an Aggie Days yet, thanks to the influence of her mother, Debbie Lee. Debbie has been involved in Aggie Days since the very beginning, first bringing in Jersey calves and leading the cow milking demonstrations, which both Lee women still do today.
Operating a mixed livestock and hay farm near Springbank, Alta., the Lee family lives agriculture every day, and understands that very few people have the same level of exposure to food production.
“When we started Aggie Days, people were maybe one or two generations removed from the farm,” Debbie says. “Now, they’re two or three generations, and many don’t understand the connection between the farms and food in the grocery store.”
Aggie Days strives to bridge that gap with interactive displays in everything from cow milking to meeting live animals and learning about how crops grow. Geared toward schools and families, Aggie Days brings agriculture to children who may not have other opportunities to experience it in the city, Debbie says.
Debbie and Danielle have lead the cow milking demonstration at Aggie Days and Ag-tivity in the City during the Calgary Stampede for many years. Twelve years ago, they acquired a plastic Holstein hand-milking cow they named Bluebell, a tribute to the late Jersey cow who the Lees brought to many Aggie Days events in the past.
Danielle says she tries to share answers to many frequently asked questions about the dairy industry during the cow milking demonstration.
“The kids mostly just want to know about what they eat, how you milk the cows, why they’re skinnier than other cows,” Danielle says. “But we also get the chance to clear up some myths about things like hormones in milk. Many people don’t know there are no hormones in milk in Canada.”
In its 30th year, Aggie Days has seen many changes. But both Lee women agree on the greatest change – it’s gotten a lot bigger. Aggie Days now welcomes 30,000-40,000 guests on the Saturday and Sunday. Debbie remembers being excited that 400 people attended the first time they extended the show to the weekend.
One thing that has not changed is the dedication of the Lee family to Aggie Days and the cause of educating people about where their food comes from.
“I think we look forward to this as much as the kids do,” says Danielle, who has been booking the week of Aggie Days off school or work her entire life, even once deferring her exams at the University of Alberta for the event.
When asked to look forward on the next 30 years of Aggie Days, Debbie says there’s nowhere to go but up.
“Aggie Days will always have a purpose, because people will always want to know where their food comes from. They just want the right information from the right people.”
Aggie Days is open to the public this weekend, April 11 & 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Calgary Stampede Park. Visit http://ag.calgarystampede.com/events/aggie-days for more information.