Mayor’s Rural Expo brings WC to the downtown core

OTTAWA – Throughout the main floor of City Hall and spilling out to the giant lawn, organizations, businesses and farms from rural Ottawa showcased their strengths at the annual Food Aid fundraising barbecue and Mayor’s Rural Expo on Friday, June 7.

The event is an annual celebration of rural Ottawa and a fundraiser for the food bank. Last year the event raised $50,092 in support of Food Aid. Mayor Jim Watson kicked off the day with a Pollinator Appreciation Day proclamation. The Works hosted the charity barbecue and Ottawa’s New Country 94 provided the music.

And of course, the highlight of the day, the celebrity cow milking competition, of which Ward 5’s Coun. Eli El-Chantiry claimed he was the defending champion.

Coun. Eli El-Chantiry gave it his best shot, but couldn't defend his milking competition championship from 2018. Photo by Jake Davies
Coun. Eli El-Chantiry gave it his best shot, but couldn’t defend his milking competition championship from 2018. Photo by Jake Davies

West Carleton organizations such as the Carp Fair and the Diefenbunker Cold War Museum were on hand to share the virtues of rural Ward 5

“It started out as Farm Aid and a way to help the food bank and beef farmers and then I suggested the Mayor’s Rural Expo which brings a couple dozen businesses and organizations from rural Ottawa downtown to promote some of the things happening in the rural areas,” Watson told West Carleton Online at the Carp Fair booth outside under a brightly shining sun. “Ottawa is 81 per cent rural and most people don’t know that. Far too often our residents in the urban and suburban areas don’t venture out to areas like Carp or Fitzroy Harbour, so it gives us a chance to bring the country to the city and promote their events or businesses.”

While El-Chantiry was unable to defend his title at the celebrity milking competition, he said it’s an important event to his community anyway.

“It’s good to showcase our products,” he told West Carleton Online. “The Carp Fair has been here almost every year since we started. We heard last year from the people who visited the Carp Fair’s booth, they would like to see some sort of bus service to the Carp Fair and that’s how OC Transpo was chartered. Otherwise those who don’t own a car aren’t able to enjoy the Carp Fair. They heard that here and acted on it and when we asked for an evaluation it was a successful practice and I think they want to do it again.”

El-Chantiry loves the rural expo.

It was a great idea to be honest with you,” he said. “This is one way to tell the city folks how their food grows and how it comes to the city and their table. If you ate today, you thank a farmer. It’s a good way to introduce the city to the country or the country to the city. We have a friendly milking competition, some goats, some chickens, the kids come in. We promote some of the local businesses right across the city. We see KIN wine, the Diefenbooker, the Carp Fair come out and support the expo.”