Where’s the beef? At the Carleton County Spring Show and Sale

The rebounding success of the Carleton County Spring Show and Sale continued last week as it welcomed 39 exhibitors to the show, with record prices delivered at the sale.

The 71st annual event, held April 15 to 17 at the Northern Carleton Civic Centre in Florenceville-Bristol, marked its continued growth following the forced downturn during the COVID pandemic.

CCSSS President Laurie Findlater described this year’s event in a social media post as “one for the books.”

During her remarks to open this year’s sale portion of the three-day event, Findlater spread credit for the show and sale’s continuing success to many groups and individuals, including fellow board members, the local beef industry, exhibitors, buyers and sponsors.

Findlater acknowledged the buyers and sponsors who filled a large section of the civic centre’s stands for Wednesday’s auction “have been supporting us for over 40 years.”

That support, which included many familiar faces, grew in strength in 2024. The 39 animals sold for a total of almost $400,000. The average price of $8.53 per pound eclipsed the record of $8.20 set last year.

The sale began on Wednesday with 4-H member Bryson Longstaff walking his 2024 Grand Champion Hereford through the ring as auctioneer Dave Crouse took bids from the stands.

A group of familiar faces at the sale delivered the highest bid. Caleb Cook and Lee Patterson of Valley Equipment, Jason Green of Valley Honda, and Glazier Canam of Connell Chrysler purchased the 2024 Grand Champion for $1,100.

Longstaff’s first time showing an animal at the event will provide lasting memories. In addition to earning the Grand Champion ribbon, he took home the 4-H animal championship and Champion Hereford titles.

He said participating in the show, especially while earning the Grand Champion ribbon, is worth the long hours and work involved in raising and caring for a championship-worthy steer.

Former New Brunswick Premier David Alward, whose family operates a beef farm near Meductic, was one of the many volunteers on hand at the show and sale. He credited Longstaff and the 4-H program as pivotal reasons for the event’s ongoing success.

Alward proudly noted that Longstaff’s champion steer began life on the Alward farm.

The 4-H Clubs, as they have for several decades, play a pivotal role in the success of the show and sale.

Countryside 4-H member Rebecca McDermid brushed her animal before the sale. She will also take home great memories from her first show the day before, where she earned the title of “Best 4-H Showman.”

River Valley 4-H member Abby Hunter, a show and sale veteran, said 4-H membership continues to grow within the beef industry and in all aspects of agriculture and community involvement.

During the 2024 event, Hunter earned titles for 4-H Reserve Champion, Champion Crossbred and Top Overall 4-H Beef Member.

Carleton-Victoria MLA and N.B. Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson understands the community significance of the show and sale and the 4-H Clubs throughout the Upper Valley. She said she witnessed the impact of the 4-H memberships on young people for decades.

Johnson praised 4-H members and leaders during her remarks before the start of Wednesday’s sale.

“They’re a stellar group of young people,” she said. “They are the future of agriculture.”

Carleton MLA and Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Bill Hogan echoed Johnson’s remarks about 4-H. He said the organization offers a great chance to socialize, learn and gain confidence.

Hogan, Johnson and Tobique-Mactaquac MP Richard Bragdon partnered to purchase Hunter’s animal during the sale.

During her address before the sale on Wednesday, Johnson thanked farmers and supporters who make the Carleton County Spring Show and Sale a success year after year.

While acknowledging the event and recent good news announcements provides a reason to celebrate ongoing agriculture success, Johnson said farmers still face “serious challenges.”

The provincial government recently announced that the agriculture sector finished 2023 with more than $1.2 billion in farm cash receipts, up from the previous record of just over $1.1 billion set the year before. Agriculture and agri-food exports totalled $778.4 million in 2023, topping the previous record of $689 million in 2022.

While agriculture sales numbers increase, Johnson noted farmers face rising costs.

“We have fuel increases. We have fertilizer increases. We have seed increases,” Johnson said.

Johnson also welcomed the privilege of announcing the 2024 Grand Champion Burger contest winner, which started four years ago to promote Upper Valley beef. She said 13 restaurants served a special burger this year, and the public voted for their favourite.

John said she tried them all.

This year’s winner was Lakeway Restaurant in Meductic, which served the Messy Bessy. The Lakeville Store’s Bourbon Street Burger took second place.

The following is a list of show winners:

Bryson Longstaff (4-H) — Grand Champion, Champion 4-H Animal, Champion Hereford

McAffee Farms — Reserve Grand Champion, Champion Charlais

McAffee Farms — Champion Angus, Champion Best Pair

Abby Hunter (4-H) — Champion Crossbred, Reserve Champion 4-H Animal

Ella Flewelling (4-H) — Champion Maine-Anjou, Reserve Champion 4-H showman

Keran Valji — Champion All Other Breeds

3 Brothers Livestock, Theresa, Wes and Josh Hunter — Champion Simmental

Liam Cosman (4-H) — Champion Heifer

McAffee Farms — Champion Best Pair

Claire Anderson (4-H) — Reserve Champion Crossbred, Reserve Champion Best Pair

Rebecca McDermid (4-H) — Reserve Champion Angus, Champion 4-H Showman

Julia Valji (4-H) — Reserve Champion All Other Breeds

Wakem Hill Cattle, Kevin Brown — Reserve Champion Maine-Anjou

Oliver Brake (4-H) — Reserve Champion Simmental

Ingrid DeLong (4-H) — Reserve Champion Charlois

Mark Durling — Reserve Champion Hereford

Ezra Delong (4-H) — Reserve Champion Heifer

Curtis Anderson (4-H) Reserve Champion Best Pair

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun