Harry de Jong’s dedication to Abbotsford Agrifair over the years is reflected in the success of the board dynamic, as well as the relationships he has built within the community.
De Jong “retired” into the position of past president last fall, after serving as an Agrifair director continuously since 1995. After terms as the board secretary and vice-president, de Jong served as president of Agrifair for more than 10 years. He is the longest serving and oldest current member on the board.
By the time de Jong turned his attention to Agrifair, he had already amassed a distinguished record of service to the community and the province. His service began on the MSA Parks and Recreation Commission in 1963. That was followed by terms on Tourism Abbotsford and the MSA Hospital Board, 10 years as mayor of Matsqui and eight as Abbotsford MLA, including a term as Minister of Agriculture.
In his many years of dedicated service, he has proven to be an effective leader.
A humble, thoughtful and fair man, he leads with quiet grace and style. He allows everyone a chance to voice their opinion. With determination and perseverance, de Jong has unified those diverse opinions and brought the Agrifair board together as a family, with each member working together and striving to make the fair bigger and better.
Under his leadership, the “little” fair has grown into a five day community celebration of family fun and wholesome entertainment that showcases the thriving local agricultural industry.
De Jong has always stressed that each director has an individual contribution to make, but that taking action and making decisions regarding Agrifair must be done as one single unit. He always reminds the board decisions need to be made in the best interest of the fair; that first and foremost, Agrifair is a fun family event for the community.
De Jong is well-respected by each and every Agrifair board member. They describe him as loyal and trustworthy, a great man and an even greater friend.
In 2006, he was appointed to the order of Abbotsford in recognition of a lifetime of service to the community.
In 2010, he was listed as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Abbotsford.
In 2011 he was selected as the community’s Favourite Volunteer in the Abbotsford News A-List. He was also instrumental in making Agrifair the A-List’s Favourite Community Event.
De Jong is generally quiet, but his many sayings display both a sharp wit and a deep thoughtfulness.
For example: “The only difference between a pigeon and a farmer today is that a pigeon can still make a deposit on a John Deere.”