BIBLE HILL – Jonathan Fisher reached forward with one hand, his feet dug into the trench lines etched into the dirt. The other hand, a white-knuckled fist set between two work boots, steadied his six-foot-three frame.
His teammates leaned back, their full weight supported by each other and their opponents on the opposite end of the rope.
At the bark of “Now!” coming from their coach, the tuggers lifted the rope over their shoulders and pulled hard toward their end of the room. One final pull and Fisher’s outstretched fingers touched the dirty wall.
Fisher and the Stewiacke Valley 4-H club defended their title as Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition tug-of-war champions.
“My strategy? Drop it in first gear and gun it for the wall,” Fisher said after walking down the handshake line with their Onslow-Belmont opponents.
“A lot of us are pretty good friends,” he said. “I was telling their guy who pulled flag there before the race, ‘Get ready because I’m going to take you to the wall.’”
Fisher, like many of the 4-H club members on hand at the MacMillan Show Centre, has been a part of the dog and pony show (literally) since he was a child.
“I’ve been at it since I was probably 11 or 12,” he said. “It’s like any team thing, really. The teams who grow up together seem to do the best at these kinds of events.”
Thousands of people came to the provincial exhibition grounds on Tuesday for the kickoff of exhibition week. Throughout intermittent rain, the crowd enjoyed midway rides, vendors of all kinds, a reptile zoo and more.
With the weather turning nasty at times, most of the attention turned to the indoor venues where farm animals were on display all day.
George and Lynn Nugent were among the folks who took the chance to get acquainted with the animals, as they watched their grandchildren enjoy the miniature ponies. Kera, eight, and Carter, six, leaned over the fences to get a closer look at the little horses.
“We came up from Halifax because the kids love the animals so much,” George said. “We go to these things all over the place – Truro, Sydney, Halifax, wherever.”
On the Industrial Building stage, a children’s band played guitar and fiddle tunes while parents and their children danced in the front row. Across the parking lot in the Antique Farm Equipment Museum, people got the chance to catch a glimpse of the past with antique lathes and wagon jacks among the collection of old school equipment.
The MacMillan Show Centre was the centre of attention for opening day, however, as hundreds of people crowded the building to watch the local 4-H clubs show everything from horses to llamas and rabbits.
The tug-of-war capped off the 4-H display and settled the score between the teams.
“It’s all about getting dirty,” Fisher said. “That’s my favourite part about doing this.”