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Urban SuperEx shows rural roots

<p>At one time, Ottawa’s SuperEx depended on agricultural showcases to draw in visitors, while its rides and games proved a sideshow novelty.</p>

Kids get a kick out of farm animals



Tim Wieclawski/metro ottawa


Wendy Doyon, 14, of Gatineau, feeds goats at the Life of Reilley Petting Zoo set up in the Rural Heritage Pavilion at SuperEx yesterday.





At one time, Ottawa’s SuperEx depended on agricultural showcases to draw in visitors, while its rides and games proved a sideshow novelty.



Today, the complete opposite is true, and city dwellers that come for the flashing lights of the midway and glitzy concert stage performances are often surprised to encounter the vestiges of the exhibition’s agricultural roots.





Cultivating the agricultural legacy of the 119-year-old SuperEx “is more important than ever, now,” said John Joynt, coordinator of the Pure Country Pavilion.





“It’s one of the only chances a lot of (urban) people will get to see animals up close and learn where their food comes from,” he said.





Joynt said it’s always amazing to see the reaction urban people have to seeing chicks hatch for the first time, or to touching a pig.





Laura O’Reilley, from the Life of Reilley Petting Zoo, says there has been a dramatic shift away from the exhibition’s rural roots towards modern entertainment, but that makes the impact of the presenters’ showcases sharper.





Her petting zoo lets people get close up to a variety of animals common to farms, but rarely seen by city dwellers — a reversal of the days when rural families displayed their animals at the Ex for the novelty of seeing the other entertainment.





“You’d be surprised at how many kids will look at a goat and say, ‘What is that?’” she said. “Kids are growing up today and they don’t know where food comes from. It’s important to know how agriculture works.”





Erin Copeland, 14, admitted that she only sees big animals once a year at the SuperEx.





“It’s really cool to touch and pet the animals,” she said. “I guess it’s different to them here than on the farm.”
















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  • Wayne Senior, with the Ontario Small Farm Producers, said he would like to see the exhibition’s agriculture section expanded as a way to link farmers with consumers.



 
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