College Royal's roots run deep

- October 22, 2015

Ready for the show. (Nick Pearce photos)
Ready for the show. (Nick Pearce photos)

Last Friday marked the most “regal” day of the year on Dal’s Agricultural Campus.

College Royal is a beloved Faculty of Agriculture tradition that encompasses agricultural education, livestock demonstrations and showmanship. Students, faculty and staff work diligently to train a cow, sheep or chicken for showmanship classes and also celebrate old-fashioned farming fun at the Farmers' Olympics.

College Royal is primarily organized by two student co-chairs. Third-year Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) Animal Science students Katie McQueen and Melissa Mammoliti took the reins for this year's event, themed “We’re Heifer a Good Time.” (A heifer is a young female cow that has not yet borne a calf.)

“Although the beginning process was quite intimidating as neither one of us come from a farming background, we saw this as a great opportunity to become involved on campus, gain valuable experience, and help uphold the well-respected tradition,” said Melissa.

This year saw more participants than ever before in the livestock show, a testament to the deep roots this campus tradition holds.  

“This year there was exceptionally large interest by students to partake in the planned events,” added Katie. “We especially saw enthusiasm from new students and many novice participants.”

As usual, the Farmers' Olympics kicked off College Royal on Thursday at the MacMillan Show Centre.  Events included a round bale roll, hay bale toss, fertilizer tote race, wheelbarrow race, pie-eating contest and a milk-chugging competition. The stands were packed with spectators who cheered on ten teams of four students each.

More than 180 participants participated in the livestock show Friday afternoon, including faculty, staff and students. Labs and classes were cancelled for the afternoon, allowing the campus community to take in the event and see the hard work students put in to prepare to show their chickens, sheep and cows. Even the beloved barn cat took in the festivities, perched on a chair to watch the classes.  

The show kicked off at the Atlantic Poultry Research Centre with the poultry division. Participants had been visiting the Centre for weeks in advance to get to know their chickens and practice showmanship techniques. Shortly afterward, the heifer and sheep portion of the livestock show began at the Ruminant Animal Centre next door.

Latisha Benoit, a second-year Veterinary Technician student, was one of the many participants.

“I’m showing a sheep for the second year in a row and looking to improve my showmanship skills,” she said. “I enjoy all the prep work like shearing, training and working with the animal.”

Abbey Martin, a second-year Animal Science student, shared a similar story, participating in the sheep division for the second year in a row.

“I put in about seven hours of work in preparation for the class,” she said. “This involved getting to know the sheep, clipping, carding [a special brush used to ‘fluff’ the wool] and training the animal to walk in a class. I decided to participate again this year since last year was so much fun.”

Among the participants were new first-year students, like Brooke McNeil. The Animal Science student explained that she had previous experience showing cows from 4H, but wanted to work with fellow students in a different setting. “It’s a neat experience to work together during College Royal with friends to prepare your animal,” she said.  

Faculty and staff participate as well. Jamie Fraser from the Chute Animal Nutrition Centre won Champion Staff Showman and received a plaque donated by Maritime Genetics. “It’s good for staff and students to work together to accomplish the same goals,” he said.

At the end of the show, the Champion Overall Showman went to student Andrew Greene. Generous sponsors made ribbons, plaques and trophies possible.

College Royal coincides with Dalhousie’s Homecoming weekend. This year, two AC reunions were planned in conjunction with Homecoming: Class of 1965 and Class of 1975.

“Homecoming is an ideal weekend for class reunions,” explained Colette Wyllie of the Alumni Relations Office for the Faculty of Agriculture. “Class reunions have the opportunity to not only plan their own activities but to piggyback on events that are already taking place, like campus tours, Breakfast in the Library, College Royal and Rocky’s Run. It’s also a particularly beautiful time of year to return to campus.”

College Royal activities continued throughout the weekend with a guest band at the campus pub ‘The Barn’ on Friday night and the Royal Ball on Saturday night.  

With rising student leaders to organize College Royal, new students eagerly getting involved and faculty and staff working closely with students, College Royal is sure to continue its historic role at the Faculty of Agriculture.


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