The Stanley Agricultural Society (S.A.S.) began in 1947 with a group of resourceful farmers. The key person was the agricultural representative, Eugene Lang. The provincial government granted the S.A.S. a charter in 1947. John Elias, the first S.A.S. president, with fellow members of the Creamery Board, were the first S.A.S. directors.

The S.A.S. is one of sixty-one broad interest agricultural societies in Manitoba. The Society is governed by a board of directors and an elected executive. The directors and executive meet on a regular basis throughout the year to plan, develop, and organize Society activities and events. The S.A.S. is a member of the Manitoba Association of Agricultural Societies (M.A.A.S.) This association provides representation for member societies. The activities of agricultural societies are governed by the Agricultural Societies Act.

The idea for a fair began with the idea to encourage milk production in the area. Previously, the Winkler area farmers were mostly shipping cream. By forming 4-H clubs to feature Holstein cattle, the hope was to encourage milk production in the area.

The government would buy purebred calves from Winnipeg dairies to supply the new local 4-H clubs. The motive for the S.A.S. and the fair was a place to exhibit these dairy cattle.

The first fair was in September of 1947 and was a busy one day affair. There were eight clubs and 80 calves exhibited that year. Besides cattle there were also many entries for hogs, chickens, rabbits, geese, ducks and even doves.

The day began with raising a huge tent loaned by the Bergthaler Church. Mrs. Hugo and the ladies sold borscht made in a huge cauldron. Tables were set up and entries were taken in the morning and judging began at 1:30 p.m. After judging was complete, the public could come view the exhibits for only a couple of hours.

The tables were removed and plank benches and a platform were set up for an evening program of local entertainment. Everything was taken down (including the tent) right after the program. Many willing volunteers worked a long day to make the first fair a success.

By the third year, the S.A.S. directors had built a quonset and converted an old boxcar into washrooms. The S.A.S. bought 10 acres from J.M. Froese to establish their fair grounds. Eventually, the fair date was switched from September to August because of harvesting and the success of a summer fair continued.

The S.A.S.’s close ties with rural life suffered with rural school closures. Many rural school teachers were the 4-H leaders and interest in clubs seemed to be waning. However, over the past several years, a Beef Club and Dairy Club has started up with great success. A Cattle Show and Sale has become a popular annual event as well.

In 1986, the S.A.S. fair merged with Old Time Value Days to form the Winkler Harvest Festival and Exhibition Inc. The Festival and Exhibition provide wholesome family entertainment, and also a format to educate the public about the agricultural industry. A variety of categories provide exhibitors with an excellent opportunity to display their products. These categories include: Educational, Collections, Canning, Baking, Sewing, Knitting/Crocheting, Hobbies, 4-H projects, Fine Arts, Horticulture, Grains/Forages, Fruits & Vegetables. For detailed information check our Annual “Fair Prize Book”. A Horse Show including classes like Halter, English, Western and Gymkhana is another main attraction at the “Festival”. For more deatils, see the annual “Light Horse & Pony Show Guide”. Recently the 4-H Beef Clubs have begun again and hold an annual Cattle Show on July 1st.

The Society conducts educational seminars on topics relevant to the needs and interests in the community. These include cattle management, landscaping, tree pruning, and the marketing of value-added agricultural products.

The Tractor/Truck Pull held each year at the beginning of July had also become a popular event. The event attracted competitors from Manitoba and United States. The competition provided an excellent opportunity for participants to show their machines. This event is no longer held, but was widely enjoyed for many years.

Continuing in new ventures, a few years ago the society completed a new facility for cattle and horses during the fair. With the Exhibition, Horse & Cattle Shows, the “fair” continues to be a showcase for the community.

Additional information regarding memberships, exhibition entries, or other Society activities may be obtained by contacting one of the directors or writing:

Stanley Agricultural Society

Box 2018

Winkler, Manitoba

R6W 4B8