April will bring the excitement of the National Holstein Convention as well as the Ontario Spring Discovery Show. An active and dedicated group of volunteers have been hard at work as they strive to provide a week of farm tours, fine dining, social events and an elite show with several new competitions.

Coyne katie
Editor / Progressive Dairy – Canada
Coyne also owns and operates Mill Wheel Dairy Show Clinics. She can be reached by email.

Heading up this enthusiastic group of convention volunteers is James Cranston, following in the footsteps of his parents, Doug and Joan, who have served numerous organizations in leadership capacities through the years.

Well over a year ago, Cranston began recruiting key volunteers based on their strengths. As an active member of Holstein Canada, a dairy farmer and a podcast host, he had ideas on who would best serve the various roles.

Cole Verburg has been in charge of promotions while Jason French will be welcoming all to a number of events as the events chair. Lora Bender has led the sponsorship committee securing funding for the event.

James Cranston (left), convention chair, visits with Cole Verburg (right). Courtesy photo.

Janice Anderson and Karen Ilett will provide registration and transportation coordination, while Kristen Bennett will oversee the Young Leaders program. Jenn Charlton is serving as the liaison between the Spring Discovery show and the convention committee. Jacqueline Florent of Frasier Farms will head up the tour days, providing convention goers with tours of elite herds in the area.


Pam Charlton, the general manager of Holstein Ontario, along with Martina Arth and Krysten Lammert of Holstein Canada, have provided the group with numerous insights and assistance.

For the first time in 11 years, Holstein enthusiasts will "Experience the Escarpment" in the beautiful city of Hamilton, Ontario. Throughout the week, convention-goers will be able to venture out on their own to enjoy exceptional food and experiences throughout the city.

Jeff Stephens plays a key role in this year’s events as the chairperson of the Spring Discovery show. Stephens, a longtime volunteer in both the dairy and beef industry in Ontario, says he is excited about the judge line-up and new aspects of the show.


Outstanding Jerseys on display at the 2023 Ontario Spring Discovery Show. Courtesy photo.

Convention and show week begin on Tuesday, April 23 with the Ontario Discovery sale at 1 p.m. followed by youth showmanship at 5 p.m. Youth 9 to 21 years old will vie for the champion showman spot in Junior, Intermediate and Senior age groups. Under the experienced eye of Kelly Reynolds, making her Canadian judging debut, youth will be put through their paces to evaluate their showing skills. Reynolds grew up in the show ring in Wisconsin, winning showmanship at the World Dairy Expo and numerous other shows. She now resides in western New York at Reyncrest Farms with her husband, Tyler, and two daughters. Reyncrest has seen great success at the World Dairy Expo and Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, leading to numerous All-American and All-Canadian nominations. Reynolds has judged state and national shows including the Western National Junior Show as well as showmanship at the World Dairy Expo and the Premier National Junior Show.

Claire Swale has been instrumental in developing the Making Memories Peewee class – a new aspect of the Spring Discovery show and one that the ringside will enjoy. Swale lost her son several years ago and cherishes the memories of his childhood. This led her to the idea for this competition – making memories for families. Swale will be on hand to take photos of the exhibitors all dressed up as their favorite characters. She feels that there is no better memory than a child doing something they love, accompanied by a photo of the excitement reflected in the moment.

Youth under the age of 9 will be able to dress up their calf and walk the show ring with their parent – the perfect setting for a great memory.

Exhibitors will be judged on their originality, creativity, how much fun they are having and more. Swale emphasized that while there is a grand prize, everyone will be a winner, as the contest is meant to be a fun event for all. While the idea came out of a sad event in Swale’s life, the evening event will create lifelong memories for all. In addition to making memories, this is a stepping stone for youth to stay in the dairy industry.

The memories will continue long after the evening is done, as the winning exhibitor and their family will be awarded a week in Orlando, Florida, courtesy of Swale.


Photo provided by Claire Swale.

Wednesday morning will find two of the most talented cowmen in the business evaluating and placing the Holstein and Jersey classes of the Ontario Spring Discovery Show. Convention-goers will have a chance to follow Nathan Thomas judging the Jerseys and Ridley Wikkerink placing the Holstein heifers. The show continues on Thursday, as ringside will again watch these two experienced judges.

Thomas; his wife, Jenny; their three children, along with his family, own and operate Triple-T Holsteins in North Lewisburg, Ohio. The Triple-T herd consists of over 100 registered head of Holsteins and Jerseys, with the current milking herd being 35 head. The farm also harvests over 200 acres of hay annually. Triple-T has been fortunate to breed, own, develop, sell and board over 180 All-American and All-Canadian nominations. It has been home to many champions over the years including favourites – Meadow Green Abso Fanny-Red, Bri-Lin Valson Spritz, Showdown Justine, Rivendale VIP Eloise and, most recently, Stoney Point Joel Bailey. Triple-T houses and develops the Vierra Jersey show herd along with caring for their own herd of elite Holsteins and Jerseys. 

Thomas operates and manages the daily tasks and operations at Triple-T. Beyond the daily chores, he also manages the marketing of the farm and oversees cattle and embryo sales. In addition, he has co-managed the annual The Best of Triple-T and Heath sale series with longtime friend and partner, Michael Heath.

Thomas has had the honour to judge Holsteins, Jerseys and Red & Whites at World Dairy Expo, judge Jerseys at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, officiate at national shows in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Australia, and served as official at many other high-level shows around the world. 


Supreme champion judges, exhibitors and class sponsor at the culmination of the 2023 show. Photo provided by Claire Swale.

Ridley Wikkerink has farmed all of his life and is a second-generation dairy farmer. Together with his wife and two children, they own Wedgwood Holsteins, milking 200 head on a 300-acre farm in Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

A partnership with Stanhope Dairy Farm which began in 1987 has resulted in over 70 All-Canadian nominations, with Wedgwood Holsteins being recognized with two Master Breeder awards.

Stanhope and Wedgwood have been fortunate to breed, own, develop and sell many great cows within the Holstein breed, including the legendary Rainyridge Tony Beauty EX 5E, who at 14 years of age became the oldest Grand Champion ever at World Dairy Expo, Silvermaple Damion Camomile EX-95 and Idee Lustre EX-95, Grand Champion Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 2002.

Wikkerink has had the privilege of judging Holsteins at World Dairy Expo and Red & Whites at the Royal Winter Fair. He has traveled extensively for international judging duties and has been an official Holstein Canada judge for over 30 years.

New to this year’s Spring Discovery show and a completely unique aspect of the convention and show will be the first annual Ontario Spring Discovery Forage and Grain Competition. The show committee is delighted to introduce this new competition to showcase forage and grain.

Entries will close on Assist Expo on Monday, April 8. Entries must be made online via the Assist Expo website under Ontario Spring Discovery Show – Forage & Grain Competition. Judging will take place on Tuesday, April 23 at 9 a.m.

Forage classes will include corn silage, haylage and baleage. Hay of different varieties and cuttings will have classes as well. A champion youth age 21 and under will be awarded as well as an open class exhibitor.

In the grain division, exhibits may be a seed art display or a sheaf of grain. Soybeans, wheat, oats and barley will each have a class for judging. Again, a champion youth and open exhibitor will be recognized.

These events will be held at the nearby Ancaster fairgrounds which will be the sight of the Toss & Taste event following the selection of Grand Champion on Thursday afternoon. Convention participants will enjoy local food and beverages while trying their hand at a friendly game of cornhole.

Friday is tour day, and Florent has a full day planned for everyone to enjoy whether the preference is cows or sightseeing.

Tour stops include Walnutlawn, Karnview and Browndale, to name a few. The alternate tour will include stops at a cider house, the Oxbow and the falls of Hamilton. Friday will culminate at the Canvas & Cocktails Soirée to be held at the Hamilton Art Gallery savouring delectable hors d'oeuvres, enjoying local entertainment and more, as attendees celebrate the spirit of community and excellence in Holstein breeding.

Saturday will begin with the Holstein Canada annual general meeting and end at the gala at the Canadian National Warplane Museum with the awarding of the prestigious Master Breeder shields.


The culmination of the week will be the Master Breeder Gala where top Holstein enthusiasts will be recognized. Courtesy photo.

In conjunction with the convention is the National Holstein Young Leader Convention program for Holstein enthusiasts between the ages of 19 and 30. Participants will network, attend leadership workshops and seminars, and participate in farm tours among other activities.

The convention and show committees have spent hours preparing for Holstein Canada enthusiasts to experience the escarpment and enjoy the Ontario Spring Discovery Show.