The 2016 edition of our annual OBdAA Picnic was held July 10 at the picturesque Sutcliffe Ranch in Pontypool, ON. Our gracious hosts for the day were Ashley McNevan and Tyler Sutcliffe of Over the Top Cattle Company. Perfect weather was specifically ordered and breeders from across the province gathered for a day of fellowship and cattle talk. Upon arrival, it was difficult to miss the impressive herd of Blondes that awaited the guests under the shade trees by the barn. Even with a shifty looking group like us, the cattle were calm and quiet as we stormed the pasture to pick out the favourites – a true testament to the temperament of the herd and the breed! The herd bull, Franmar Weiser, drew lots of attention and compliments. The calf crop he had sired were an impressive group and it was obvious the OTOP would have a powerful 2016 show string. A popular pair that garnered attention were the powerful Hilltop Orchard Scarlet and her white January bull calf Over the Top Driller. The standout heifer calf seemed to be Over the Top Delicious out of the Crystal Zoey cow. Obviously the cattlemen gene has been passed on to the next generation, as she is Anna’s favourite, too!

A ring of the dinner bell (literally) signalled mealtime, and the crowd moved to the beautifully shaded backyard to partake in the bounty that proved, once again, that Blonde breeders can cook! Compliments to the chefs for an incredible spread. The reviews were a bit more mixed on the Guinness Blonde, though! This also provided time to catch up and to discuss the most pressing topic of the season: the amount RAIN (or the lack there of)! Pastures were dry for most in attendance and the hay crop had been uneven at best. Fingers were definitely crossed for some moisture before second cut.

The famous mini-auction, which is always the most entertaining portion of any Blonde gathering, was next on the agenda. Dave McNevan lent his talents again and acted as our auctioneer. Tensions ran high as the bidding was heated on more than a few of the offerings. The World’s-Most-Sold-Pitchfork made its return and headed to Tweed this time with its proud new owner, Eric Doran. Sheila McNevan seemed to be setting a mood and planning a special evening, as all of her purchases seemed to share a common theme. The evening plans took a turn (not sure if it was for the better or the worse!) with her final purchase of a Swiss cow bell donated by Paul Fee, who had just returned from Switzerland. Mr. Fee seemed to keep his bidding hand in his pocket for most of the auction. He clearly had his heart set on the last item to sell – the now-famous ‘Blondes Have More Fun’ T-shirt that was purchased at the AGM by Mary Ellen Ferguson and inconspicuously donated back to the auction table. Unfortunately, he was out-bid by a determined Nicholas Boyd, who made sure the shirt would live to see another auction. Luckily it was realized that Allan and Teeny’s hanging baskets hadn’t been sold, so Paul was able to redeem himself and make a purchase. When the dust cleared and the laughter slowed, a grand total of $1275.75 was raised for the association. Thank you to all who donated and purchased items!

They say all great things must come to an end. With long drives ahead for some, the crowd said their goodbyes and thank yous and began to disperse. We couldn’t have asked for a better day and we sincerely thank Ashley, Tyler, and the Sutcliffe Family for their gracious hospitality in hosting our picnic. As always, we look forward to doing it all again next year!