By Brendan Nichol
For The Advocate
As a twenty-something-year old man – I’ve been the recipient of one or two strange looks when I mention my interest in pickling and preserving foods. It’s understandable, most people likely think that I should have better things to do. When I’m struggling for breath in a vinegar fumigated apartment or picking onions in the cold October rain I, too, sometimes start to think that way – but then I remember why I make pickles.
I’ve always had an interest in “the olden days” and all things traditional. Especially anything with a Maritime or rural connection. I have enjoyed these things for my whole life, and I’ve grown very accustomed to it. This is where my general desire to learn traditional skills comes from but my particular interest stems from an event several years ago.
While on a weekend home from St. Francis Xavier University, I visited with my paternal grandmother, Beverly, with hopes to learn how to make the recipe for her excellent mustard pickles. Over the weekend, my grandmother gave me several tips and guided me through the canning process for the first time. They were the best pickles I ever had and the best I’ll ever make.
Sadly, only three months later, she passed away. I will always remember and cherish the memory of making mustard pickles and spending those days learning from ‘Nannie Bev’.
Now, you are likely wondering – what does this have to do with the “Exhibition Prizebook”? Fair enough. Let’s back up and provide an introduction to the book. The prizebook is like a little bible or guide to the Exhibition. Basically, anything you need or want to know about it can be found in that little book: rules regarding the motorsports and horse pulls; classes for horses and other livestock; information about 4-H; as well as the classes that the public can submit exhibits to (which are located in the Kinsmen building). The 2018 books are now available in digital and print copies for your convenience.
What I want you to take away from the above is the importance of learning traditional skills from the older generation before it’s lost. That’s what is so great about the prizebook! Take a quick glance and you will see many of the traditional skills that have been passed down over time. Find something you like or think would be interesting. Say you take a look and you want to make a wreath. That’s great – but now what? Well you can always look online or use YouTube to educate yourself. But what I would suggest, is to talk to a member of your family, especially from an older generation, who already has these skills. Learn from them so you can then pass that knowledge down yourself someday.
But what if you don’t have a family member with knowledge on a particular subject that you wanted to learn about? I would find a neighbour, friend, or community group who could help you. I know that most folks who take part in a hobby – say gardening – would love to show you how to get started and that’s especially true if you are a younger person in my experience!
So now you have a plan for the rest of summer: take a look at the prizebook, see what interests you, learn how to accomplish this, and then submit it to be judged and enjoyed by the community (perhaps win a nice ribbon and bragging rights too). There are about six weeks until the Exhibition – more than enough time. This is a wonderful chance to spend time bonding with older generations while broadening your skills and knowledge – don’t miss out!
I’ll have pickles submitted this September – what will you submit?
Here is a link to a digital version of the Exhibition Prizebook: