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Kerstin is an ex logistics manager turned Red Cross executive volunteer. She loves horses, anything with chocolate in it and trees.
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End of April, the National Agriculture Show 2012 was held in Belmopan. I was really excited to go and hoped to see some “normal” horses, not the poor critters I am used to seeing in the Belize City Tourism Village. My colleague told me that it is “no big deal” and “all about screaming kids, dust everywhere and drunken people”. Well, the truth is somewhere in between.
We were assigned to attend to the Belize Red Cross booth on Saturday; Sunday it was a different group. So we arrived in the morning (and it was already in the 90s hot) and set up our Red Cross booth in one of the less crowded back areas. The location was actually pretty good, although we were not on the main route, many people came by. A lot of people took information like the family preparedness plans, free condoms, information about Dengue, H1N1 and Malaria etc. And the teachers loved our free posters about hygiene, water safety, how to avoid illnesses etc. We also had a raffle of several donated items and the main price was a cell phone (!!). And we also got prices for kids like toys and stuffed animals. Pretty cool.
The actual fairground offered pretty much a little bit of everything. From rides (no, I did not ride the Ferris Wheel again) to lots and lots and lots of food (mainly rice and beans and chicken), drinks (as usual – the later the day the more dunk the people…) and vendors of all kinds (from underwear to vinegar, from fertilizer to hot sauce peppers, from local jewelry to phones). And here we come to the point that makes me wonder. The phones. The two national phone service providers give out “special” deals (at least that’s what everybody thinks). And if you have not stand in that line at one of their tents, for at least 3 hours, to get a “double-tribble up” or a new phone or just a good yell at the poor clerk that you do not want to receive advertisement texts in the middle of the night, then you have not been at the AG show. I don’t know how they do it but I assume that most of the over 22,000 people counted at this years AG show spend time at the phone tents.
But one thing that really makes me wonder: The Agriculture show is pretty much divided in three sections: Rides – Vendors – Agriculture part. What I have seen is that most of the visitors hardly made it to the actual agriculture part. Maybe I just have a special tweak for agriculture and might be more interested than the average visitor but I think it is really sad that most people cared more about phones and Jaegermeister than getting the actual heart and soul of the whole event. It was quite strange, since it was actually a great display of the local agriculture and it’s diversity! From farm and ranch equipment (that can include not only pick up trucks and motorbikes but also canoe and kayaks here), a petting zoo, local fruits and plants and how to grow them, animal judging contests, rodeo competitions, solutions for safe water supply (especially for the rural areas pretty important) and electricity via solar as well as awards for the farmer of the year (male/female/youth) they had a great program. Local ranchers brought their animals and showed the diversity they offer. The most common cattle breed in Belize are Nelore and Brahman (the ones with the funny ears and back) but they also had some “Swiss Braunvieh” and other smaller breeds. For the horse section they had some fine thoroughbred, quarter and paint horses but also some local foals from the Mennonite community.
Speaking of… as nice as the above mentioned horses were, there were also the hard-to-look-at horses – those seen under the saddle. For a little money anybody could buy a horse ride. And no, it’s not like at a county fair like I know it, where you put your kid on the pony and its happy to walk a round or two. Here, mainly boys and men, rent a horse – get up and shoot off in the fastest gallop the weak legs allow. No matter how big the guy and small the horse, no matter how hot it is. Yes. Good and bad are pretty close.
Overall, I think the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture Research and Development (yes, that is the full name…) did a wonderful job putting this display of Belizean agriculture together. Wish I could have come on Sunday for the Rodeo as well…
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