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Ayrshires at the Armstrong Fair

Black and white photo of a filled grandstand and nearby crowd watching nine cows being led. Interior Provincial Exhibition 1933 hand printed on bottom of photo.

Interior Provincial Exhibition, 1933

The Armstrong Fair was started, in 1900, to celebrate the agricultural products of the Okanagan. The annual fair provided a venue for local farmers to exhibit their products and compete with each other. It is now the Interior Provincial Exhibition and follows a long tradition of such events where whole communities would participate in a festival and market all in one.

Black and white photo of an older man wearing a suit, other men standing and an announcement stand are in the rear.

James Cameron Dun-Waters at the IPE, 1938

The Armstrong Fair has now been held for over 100 years and James Dun‑Waters was an enthusiastic supporter of the event. In 1930, Dun‑Waters staged a line-up of 120 Ayrshires at the fair to promote the breed among the dairy farmers of the province. A huge effort went into the setting-up of this for the photographer. The animals had to be transported to the fairgrounds and housed there, washed and curry-combed and then led out to stand in the line. All this is easier said than done, as cattle are social animals and each one has a particular status in a herd. When cows from other herds are brought together, as at these fairs, there are often moments of tension when unfamiliar animals are expected to group together quietly.

Back and white photo of a long row of cattle in a field, each with a man holding the halter. Barns and farm buildings in the background.

120 head of Ayrshires at the Armstrong Fair, 1930

The Armstrong Fair was a golden opportunity for Captain Dun‑Waters to show off the merits of the Ayrshire breed and to attract the attention of prospective buyers. While on-the-spot sales were important, he was also concerned with the bigger picture, and did his best to promote the Ayrshire as a worthwhile dairy breed. He sold Fintry Ayrshires and recent imports at very reasonable prices to local farmers in order to encourage the popularity of the Ayrshire breed.

The Armstrong Fair was a high point in the year for Dun‑Waters and he often led the Scottish pipe-band in the fair’s opening parade.


Enjoy the video ‘Interior Provincial Exhibition 1929’ with a transcript