Lögberg-Heimskringla - 10.09.1999, Blaðsíða 3

Lögberg-Heimskringla - 10.09.1999, Blaðsíða 3
Lögberg-Heimskringla • Föstudagur 10. september 1999* 3 . ¦ ¦ President Grímsson, about to enjoy hisfifst ride on a high clearance sprayer on.Bob Eyolfson s farm near Leslie, SK. Photo: Nathan Anderson Presidential visit to the farm Joan Eyolfson Cadham Foam Lake, SK HOW DO YOU PREPARE YOUR FARM for the visit of a foreign head of state? "Well," said Bob Eyolfson, "I seldom scrub the wheels of the RoGator." Bob had the best reason in the world to get out the scrub brush. On July 29, he used the sprayer to treat the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, to a crop tour. The President, accompanied by his daughter, Dalla Ólafsdóttir, the Consul General of Iceland in Canada and his wife, the Honourary Consul of Iceland in Saskatchewan, two aides, Canadian and Saskatchewan protocol officers and security, and local and provincial media, spent a day in the Vatnabyggd area, on a visit planned to reconnect Iceland with the large Icelandic Canadian community in the region and to look at trade, cultural, and tourism connections between Iceland and the Vatnabyggd area. The visit was arranged by Jón Örn Jónsson, the Honourary Consul. Once the historic visit was con- firmed, executive of the Vatnabyggd Icelandic Club of Saskatchewan imme- diately decided that the agenda would include a visit to a farm owned by a descendant of one of the Icelandic pio- neers. The farm was chosen by the Vatnabyggd Club because of the Icelandic connection, because of the location in the heart of the Vatnabyggd area, and because of accessibility to Highway 16. It was Bob who suggested the sprayer ride. "I knew he'd never have had a ride on one," Bob said. Besides, the sprayer can do 30 mph on gravel and, Bob figured, they could cover a lot of territory in the allotted 15 minutes. While cousin Kris Eyolfson gave the yard a Presidential once-over, Bob spent about three hours with a pressure washer and scrub brush, working over his RoGator 854. Daughter Amanda took on the inside windows and the cab. Meanwhile, Wendy organized a for- mal garden party with ribbon and pin- wheel sandwiches, assorted dainties, punch, and coffee, all served on bone china. Jennifer, Kim, and Amanda helped. "They now know how to make fancy sandwiches," Wendy said. Bob's mom, Margie, made the vinarterta and Wendy's mom, Edna, stripped her flower beds to provide bunches of cream and burgundy lilies to match Wendy's colour scheme. During the "advance," when an Icelandic delegation, security, protocol, and Vatnabyggd Club executive toured the entire route two weeks before the President's arrival, Bob and Wendy were asked to keep down the guest list so that the President would have time to properly meet and talk to everyone. Bob and Wendy looked for people with an Icelandic background, "people who really wanted to be here, people who would feel comfortable talking to a head of state, and a broad age range," they said. With protocol officials, offi- cial drivers, security, and media, they figure they had seventy-five people. It was a very unusual moment when a foreign head of state, accompanied only by a Saskatchewan farmer, headed down the driveway and onto gravel in the cab of a sprayer. "Oh, well," said Chuck, the chief security officer, "if we have to find it, it's probably íhe only sprayer out there with an Icelandic flag." Visitors took bets while they waited for President Ólafur and Bob to come back. Most of them guessed right. The sprayer rolled into the yard with President Ólafur driving. "He said there was nothing in Iceland that came close to this," said Bob, who had taken him around a quar- ter and showed him various crops including adjacent fields of flax and canola in bloom. Over coffee, President Ólafur talked to the local farmers. "He's. impressed at our respect for the land, the way we have cultivated the land, and he is impressed with the way the Canadian Icelanders have preserved the culture," Bob said. Icelandic farms centre on dairy and sheep, Bob said. The population of Iceland is about 260,000 and they are self-sufficient in dairy. "If we could re- open Hudson Bay and ship feed grain for their livestock we might be in busi- ness," Bob speculated. "To ship through Hudson Bay to Iceland is a fairly short trip." Iceland has excess generating capacity created by tapping the energy of the geysers. "They grow their own vegetables in greenhouses heated with steam," Bob said. Although security was present dur- ing the entire visit, they were entirely unobtrusive. "They did drop in unan- nounced Wednesday night, before the visit," Bob said. However, when they took off with the sprayer, Bob said, "I didn't see anyone. They (Chuck, Andy and Kathy) were fun to have around— they finally realized this wasn't a terror- ist society, just a bunch of good old Saskatchewan people." Please see Farm on page 6 <m ir mnn* rih* im mv wwm mri u tm\w mvnwu ^ nni \ nn WHKiHMr

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