National Holstein show moves to Saint-Hyacinthe

With post-COVID-19 regional shows done and more to come this fall, Holstein Canada is guardedly confident it can pull off a hybrid version of its national shows Nov. 17-20 in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec.

Martintown-area dairy farmer Nancy Beerwort, Eastern Ontario director to the Holstein Canada board, told Farmtario there was swift reaction from the nation’s dairy show community following the COVID-related cancellation of the 2021 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. 

Why it matters: The 2020 Royal was also cancelled due to the pandemic, so this is the first opportunity for breeders to gather on a national scale since November 2019.

That event, held annually in November in Toronto, is the traditional home of the dairy sector’s national shows in Canada.

“It was evident from the reaction of breeders that there was a desire for a national show,” said Beerwort. As chair of Holstein Canada’s show and judging committee, she spoke on behalf of the 2021 national show organizers. “The wheels were immediately put in motion for this to happen.”

Holstein Canada president Elyse Gendron pledged to host the shows on a “cost-recovery” basis and that the event will be “safe for all participants,” she said in an Aug. 6 news release. Given those limitations, the Nov. 17-20 activities will be scaled down. 

“Saint-Hyacinthe was chosen because the facility has the required space for the number of animals that usually show in our Red-and-White and Black-and-White National Holstein Shows,” Beerwort said. 

With 400 to 450 animals, there isn’t enough space under pandemic restrictions to also host other breeds, so only the Holstein shows will be held.

The event will be subject to Quebec’s pandemic-related protocols at that time. The province now “has a mandatory vaccination passport or proof of double vaccination for entrance into most venues,” Beerwort noted.

However, “the reaction was extremely positive” to Holstein Canada’s announcement that the shows will go on. Since then, some regional shows were held and more are expected this fall, with competitors eyeing a spot on the Saint-Hyacinthe stage.

“There was excitement with the plan to bring the ‘best of the best’ together at a national show,” said Beerwort.

Early-season dairy shows were cancelled, including the Ontario Spring Discovery in April in Ancaster. Others, like the 2021 Ontario Summer Show in Lindsay went ahead under pandemic-related restrictions.

Holstein Canada “has been closely monitoring the pandemic situation as well as public health guidelines,” said the Aug. 6 news release. “We are confident that we will be able to give breeders an event in compliance with all requirements.”

Beerwort said schedule details aren’t yet solidified but the organizing committee is committed to making it a memorable event. 

“The national Holstein shows are all about the cows – the finest Holsteins from across the country gathering together, treating us to a spectacular event.”