RUSSELL – Local financial planner Theresa Wever has joined the Russell Agricultural Society’s second-time-around-club, becoming president once again at the annual general meeting last Friday.

With Wever’s appointment for 2019, Chris Therkelsen became immediate past president; Abbey McFaul was named by directors as first vice-president, Mhairi Rowland second VP, Karen Lovenuk as homecrafts representative, and Chris Onley as treasurer. Elizabeth Ferguson was reappointed secretary and office manager.

Among her priorities, Wever named formalizing volunteer appreciation in the society which sponsors the annual Russell Fair, celebrating its 161st edition from Sept. 5-8.

At the meeting, two of the staunchest volunteers were recognized for 40 years of service, both of them members of the second-time-around-club, meaning they served on the executive twice, culminating with the presidency. They’re Henry Staal and Bert Vedder who received commemorative plaques; they described how they signed up on the same Saturday and, as their first job, were assigned to rake the horse ring.

The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies Award of Merit went to Chris Onley who stepped into the treasurer’s position last year. In his presentation of financial statements, Onley was able to show a 2018 surplus of more than $10,000 after three years of deficits.

In his delivery of the annual report, departing president Therkelsen cited that last year’s perfect fair weekend weather as one of the main reasons for its success. He said the 160th edition will be remembered as the Fair of the Great Quilt Show with more than 200 heritage quilts displayed from all over Canada.

Therkelsen also underlined the return of the antique farm equipment display, coordinated by Staal as a major attraction. He paid tribute to hundreds of volunteers which helped make the fair a wonderful addition to the community, recalling how last year’s fair closed with a volunteer appreciation event that drew more than 125 people.

Big numbers were achieved among most traditional fair attractions including exhibitor entries, livestock shows, demolition derby, tractor, truck, and garden tractor pulls, youth and 4-H, entertainment tent, and educational days. However, Sunday was an “anomaly” with attendance at the free pancake breakfast down from last year as well as attendance at outdoor attractions.

“We’re certainly going to switch things up next year. Even after 160 years, we’re always learning.”