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The first one without him: David Coombes remembered as cornerstone of Hants County Exhibition


Beautiful weather brings big first weekend to Windsor

WINDSOR, N.S. — The first ever David Coombes Exhibition Champion Award was presented to Ron MacDonald on Sept. 16, thanking him for his many, many years of service at the show.

Fran Coombes, David’s wife, and Lisa Hines, David’s daughter and general manager of the exhibition, presented the award.

It was an emotional moment for all involved, as all three fought back tears.

2018 marks the first year in 53 years without David Coombes at the helm of the exhibition, but his daughter said his presence was very much so still evident. David Coombes died in March 2018.

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Ron MacDonald, 81, who was surprised by the award, said he was very thankful for his time with David Coombes.

“Dave joined us in 1963 and we did a lot of shows together, not just here at the exhibition, but at the Atlantic Winter Fair and the Nova Scotia provincial exhibition,” MacDonald said. “Dave and I developed a very strong business relationship and a very strong friendship as well.”

Fran Coombes, left, and Lisa Hines present Ron MacDonald with the first ever David Coombes Exhibition Champion Award in recognition for all of his hard work over the past 60 years.
Fran Coombes, left, and Lisa Hines present Ron MacDonald with the first ever David Coombes Exhibition Champion Award in recognition for all of his hard work over the past 60 years.

MacDonald said there wasn’t a thing that David didn’t know when he was running things.

Lisa Hines, manager of the exhibition, said the award will be presented annually to recognize individual contributions to the festival.

“It seemed like an obvious opportunity to recognize one of the many people who have been at this for so many years and have put their heart and soul into it,” Hines said. “Whether they’re an employee or a service provider or volunteer, we have so many great people who you can always count on.”

Hines admits it’ll be a tough one to decide each year, as there are so many deserving people that could receive it.

This is Hines’ first year in her dad’s position as general manager of the exhibition. Echoing her father, she said she’s grateful that Mother Nature is on their side.

“I hear his voice a lot,” she said.

“I grew up in exhibitions, and I’ve been a director for seven years, and in the last few years I’ve definitely been more involved,” she said.

“Without him, there were a lot of things that sort of stuck out, like ‘stay on time,’ and how to handle situations, good and bad,” she said.

“Last night I was sitting in the arena, we had a great crowd, got back on time and I was pretty emotional. Dad would’ve been so pleased.”

David Coombes is posthumously being honoured in the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame in October for his contributions to the industry.

Andrew Manning received a $1,000 scholarship from the Hants County Exhibition, which will go towards obtaining his degree at the Dalhousie School of Agriculture.

“It felt really good and I’m thankful for it, because it will definitely help me to further my education,” he said. “Once I’m through school I’d like to go back to the family farm.”

The scholarship has been an annual part of the exhibition since 1985. The first scholarship was presented to his father Dean Manning.

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