MORRISBURG – For some, it can take many years before earning a chance to compete at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, in Toronto. For 16 year-old South Dundas resident Chloe Hart, she earned her opportunity in her first year of trying.
Hart, a Grade 11 student at Seaway District High School, competed in the ‘March Cattle’ competition at the Royal from November 5th to the 8th. She competed as a member of the Dundas County 4-H club, having joined this year.
“I was told that it is extremely rare for someone to go to the Royal in their first year,” said Hart. “I was very lucky on that one.”
Hart’s path to the Royal took her to three different agriculture events in the region. First at the East Gen Showcase in Spencerville, followed by the Stormont Fair in Avonmore. Last was the South Mountain Fair. Eight cattle, and their owners qualified to go to the Royal from Dundas County 4-H, plus one herdsman. Hart, and her cousin Madisyn Hart were the only two from South Dundas to compete.
“Madisyn was the one who got me interested in agriculture and being involved in 4-H,” said Hart.
Hart raised her calf at Hart Haven Farms on Nudell Bush Road.
“I really appreciate them letting me raise Keira there,” she said.
Once earning her spot at the Royal, Hart had to find sponsors to help with the costs of exhibiting.
“Each of us had to raise $500,” she said. “I was lucky and had people and groups who were willing to help.”
Her sponsors were Chris Wiltshire, Century 21, Sports Fix, Morrisburg Snack Shack, Gary’s Automotive, KBD Transportation and the Morrisburg and District Leos Club.
Once at the Royal, Hart spent long hours in the livestock halls with her Holstein, Keira. She was often in the barn from 3 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“There was a lot to take in,” said Hart. “What to do, where to go. Getting Keira ready.”
She described the Royal as overwhelming but a great experience. At the Royal, Hart competed in a series of heats for showmanship and conformation. Conformation is the overall presentation of the animal Hart explained.
“I didn’t do as well in showmanship, but I placed fourth in my heat for conformation.”
This put Hart in the final for the class, where she finished 18th overall out of 125 competitors.
“Keira showed really well,” she said.
With this year’s event over, Hart is looking forward to next year. As for Keira, Hart explained the cow was getting too large for her to be able to raise, but could compete again as a second year cow exhibited by another family member.
“I will definitely do this again,” she said.
In addition, she is looking at agriculture as a possible career in her future, enrolling in the Specialized High Skills major program in agriculture at Seaway this year.
“I really like being a part of seeing how the animals grow,” said Hart. “You raise them and are part of their lives, knowing you helped get them there.”