Awarded by the provincial government, Century Farm Awards honour agricultural organizations that have been active for a century or longer, as well as pioneers whose farms and ranches have been in families for 100 years or more.

A new recipient of the award, the valley’s Windermere District Farmers’ Institute and Livestock Association (WDFI) was incorporated in 1914 as the Windermere Farmers’ Institute — Incorporation #91 with membership fees set at 50 cents. But it wasn’t until 1973 that the institute acquired the 20-acre fairground property that was the site of Sunday’s Summer Agri Fair.

The presentation of a Century Farm Award was just one of the many features of the six-hour event. Though the low turnout left several vendors disappointed, a special treat was in store for those who did take time to tromp through the hay field under the hot sun to explore the various booths, sample many tasty treats and become acquainted with farm animals that most non-ranchers don’t have the chance to encounter very often. The day also featured a ceremonial ground-breaking (or in farmers’ terms, sod-turning) at the site of the WDFI’s future abattoir.

For a facility that caused so much uproar in its approval and zoning phases, where it will stand in the Agri Park — on a small, apartment-sized plot tucked away in the back of the property against a treeline with Mount Nelson towering in the background — is inconspicuous, to say the least.

The Century Farm Awards honour, combined with the start of the abattoir’s construction have now caught the interest of Beef in BC magazine (touted as the official voice of the cattle industry in the province), which plans to feature the WDFI’s achievements as a local success story in an upcoming issue.

Ideally, this Summer Fair was less a one-off event and more the start to a new valley tradition. The smell of hay,  the relaxed ranch atmosphere, and the love of the land exuded by the fair organizers and vendors was about as refreshing as a cool dip in the lake.