By Kathy Yanchus
When 23-year-old Carli Smith was crowned the Rockton Agricultural Society’s Fair Ambassador on Sunday, Jan. 13, it was a fitting tribute for the Brantford resident who has been working at the historic agricultural event since she was seven.
As a youngster, Smith would accompany her parents to the annual fall fair when they brought their animals, which included pigs and rare cows from India.
“We used to bring those to the fair so that people would get an understanding of the different animals. I started doing odds and ends because I was there every weekend, all weekend.”
Among other small jobs she undertook, Smith would help clean fleece to be woven into yarn and ‘water’ the animals. At the age of 11, she joined the fair’s junior directors, eventually becoming the group’s vice-chairman and then chairman, responsible for organizing fair duties for what grew into a membership of 60 youth. Juniors are responsible for a myriad of jobs during the fair, not the least of which is keeping the fairgrounds clean.
Smith wanted to enter the Fair Ambassador competition because of everything the fair has done for her, she said, adding that last year, organizers nominated her for an Ontario Youth Volunteer Award.
Contestants were quizzed on their knowledge of the fair, and had to write a speech, this year’s topic being what they considered the vital ingredient for a successful fair.
“I said teamwork because there are a bunch of committees all working together and then you have the volunteers,” said the 2008 Ancaster High School graduate.
In a twist on the usual impromptu question posed to competitors, the three contestants had to pull out an object from inside a bag and speak about how the item could be used at the fair. Smith grabbed a pair of sunglasses.
Smith grew up in Copetown, but now lives on a 123-acre farm in Brantford.
“Ours is actually all pets,” she laughed. “We have about 100 cows and every single one of them has a name. I’ve got 13 horses and every single one of them has a name. We also used to have rodeo stock and there are a couple of bulls and horses from the rodeo circuit that still hang out at our house. They’re all pets.”
Growing up on a farm was “awesome.”
“There was always something new going on, keeping you busy, keeping me out of trouble.”
Her work ethic comes from life on the farm, said Smith.
“I’m not afraid to get out there and get stuff done.”
She is currently apprenticing in a small Burford daycare, with her ultimate goal of working with autistic children.
Her role as Fair Ambassador will keep her busy over the next 12 months, attending multiple events at Westdale Heritage Village, as well as events like the Dundas Cactus Festival Parade and the Lynden Canada Day Parade. She will also compete for the annual Ambassador of the Fairs title during the CNE this summer.
“I feel very privileged to be able to be one of the people representing the Fair,” she said.