An emotional gathering of support
Peter Ruiter and family stand emotional in front of over 700 attendees to the Blackrapids Farmfest held in North Gower on Sat., Oct. 14.  “I love my kids but after my kids I love my cows!”  Strong words coming from a man who does many little things to help others not ever realizing the impact he has had on so many lives until this humbling support from city and rural alike. “In my heart I want to rebuild.”      Vogel photo

Muriel Carruthers
Record Staff
NORTH GOWER –‘Ignore the rain, look at the rainbow.’ These inspiring words were certainly evident when Peter and Rosemary Ruiter and their family were overcome with emotion at the community support immediately following the devastating fire on Sept. 8 that destroyed their three barns, an 80-cow dairy herd and the livelihood of the family. According to a release from media and communications expert Theresa Whalen, “The landmark farm on Prince of Wales in Nepean was considered by many as a beacon of agricultural excellence for the community.”

Beth Ruiter, of Quilters Barn and Gifts, donated a quilt to auction off in support of the Blackrapids Farmfest.  Vogel photo

The community from near and far certainly came through on Saturday evening to show incredible support for the Ruiters in their time of need. The ‘Blackrapids Farmfest: An evening with the Ruiters’ celebration took place on Sat., Oct. 14, at the North Gower Community Centre.

Above, Paul Mussell, local farmer and comedian, assists with the auction for Blackrapids Farmfest in North Gower on Sat., Oct. 14. The proceeds are to support Peter Ruiter and family after fire destroyed their dairy barns and cattle. Vogel photo

“The outpouring of generosity and help has been overwhelming. My family and I are so grateful,” said Peter Ruiter, in the initial release, but his message of appreciation was reiterated at the event. “I just consider myself to be a regular guy who has always helped my neighbours and community as best I can. But this response has been…  Well, it’s been humbling to say the least.”

James Auction Services builds the excitement in the room as the auction begins for Blackrapids Farmfest. Stewart James grabs bids as they pour in at the auction held in North Gower on Sat., Oct. 14.  Over 700 people attended to show support through various events such as live auction, silent auction and dance all in support of the Ruiter family as they await the fate of their dairy farm. Vogel photo

The evening started with coffee and desserts. There were tables for the family and older people, but the community centre was at capacity with a full house, and standing room only. A heated tent was on the east side for the overflow and a quieter area for talking. An evening lunch of pulled pork and beef served on a bun, with beef and pork donated by two farms, was served.

Although a final tally of the numerous donations and items sold in the live and silent auctions has yet to be determined, the live auction alone raised about $30,000 and the GoFundMe page has reached over $50,000.

The event was very well organized by a committee made up of representatives from the many service organizations that the Ruiters have been and are involved with, including the Ottawa-Carleton Milk Committee, Ottawa Federation of Agriculture, Junior Farmers Association, and St. Monica’s Church, among others.