New Manual Created to Organize Ag Society's Events

Celebrating their 70th year, the Hanover Ag Society will be putting on their four annual events backed by a new sense of confidence.

New volunteers are already learning their roles and following procedures to make this year's Spring Rodeo a success. Making sure all the posters are printed, canteens are stocked, the midway rides are ready to go and all the young cowboys and cowgirls are signed up.

The Spring Rodeo, along with the June Classic Demolition Derby, the Ranch Rodeo and the Hanover Ag Fair are a large part of what the Hanover Ag Society's board focuses on year-round. Each event has a subcommittee, which is made up completely of volunteers.

Building a new foundation

In the past, the Ag Society noticed that things weren't always clear when passing along traditions and event planning from one set of volunteers to the next, which is why this year they decided to create a policies and procedures manual.

"It helps solidify the board and strengthen communication," says Thelma Blahey, rural leadership specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. "When you have a well-oiled event it will ultimately bring in more people and more money for future events, whether that be through sponsorship, media or word of mouth."

The manual is made of a general policies and procedures section for the board along with four subsections for each of the annual events. With funding from the Growing Forward 2 Growing Visions program, each board member was interviewed about their role and duties and each committee member was job-shadowed during one of their events.

"We have it set up so every event has a timeline of what needs to be done before, during and after the event to make it successful. It gives us a great peace of mind knowing that everything is in place," says Crystal Friesen, who has provided administrative support to the Hanover Ag Society for the last year and a half. "Everything has always come together in the past, but this is a way of making sure we hit all our marks and aren't doing things last-minute."

Transferring information to new volunteers made easier

She says it's been exciting already to use the manual, especially to give organized direction to new volunteers. In preparation for the season's first event she was able to send a volunteer their portion of the manual by email.

"It clearly lays out the duties and also has an organizational flow chart, so you know who to ask for help and who is responsible for what task," Friesen says.

Friesen remembers going to the fair for the first time when she was about eight or nine years old and says she's gone every year since then.

"It's always a big part of our summer," she says.

The manual also acts as a resource for booking entertainment, vendors, equipment and reaching out to media for advertising.

Bringing agriculture back as a focus of events

Friesen says she believes the next step for the Hanover Ag Society will be incorporating more agriculture into their events.

"It seems like times are changing, somewhat, people are going back to their roots in farming and gardening and becoming more interested in agriculture," she says. "We used to have a horticulture show that hasn't been around for several years. I'd like to see it come back and see what else we can do to incorporate farming information into the events."

The Growing Visions program is used to help move organizations with strategic plans forward in a competitive marketplace while increasing profitability and sustainability of the sector.