Elk products sell well at winter fair

The fifth time is a charm, right?
Well, maybe that’s not the saying, but it’s true for Deb Cornell and her Rainy River Elk Company.
Cornell recently spent 10 days in Toronto promoting Rainy River District and her products in Northern Ontario’s pavilion at the annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
This was the fifth time she attended the fair—and it was the most productive yet. In fact, Cornell received a framed certificate, along with seven others, recognizing her five-year contribution.
“I saw a significant increase in sales this year,” she said, noting a re-design of the pavilion this year likely helped.
“The new layout moved customers through the exhibits much more easily,” she stressed, adding she was immediately getting returning customers.
Cornell also felt with five years under her belt, she has begun to establish her presence at the fair.
“I’m sure that made quite a difference because people are beginning to recognize our products,” she said.
Besides coming home with the cash, Cornell indicated she enjoyed meeting new people.
“The north is so vast, you don’t get to meet people from Sudbury or Parry Sound,” she explained. “So I was able to network and do business with some of them.”
Cornell said she brought home some cranberries from one of the booths while a vendor in Sudbury offered to distribute her elk meat. And, of course, she learned a lot, too.
“It’s a fair which brings the farmer to the consumer, so I learned about merchandising and how to better present my product, which is interesting,” she remarked.
Cornell did display some additional products at this year’s fair, such as leather mitts, which also did very well.
She said northern exhibitors need to establish a better link to downtown Toronto and to improve distribution to all of southern Ontario.
Cornell noted the most interesting part of her trip was having Patrick McKenna as a customer at her booth. McKenna is a Canadian actor who plays Harold Green on “The Red Green Show,” and has been in several other TV movies and series.
“He seemed like a really nice person, really low-key,” she said, adding there were other interesting people at the fair, including Ian Millar (world-renowned equestrian), Jill Henselwood (Canadian show jumping champion), and Alannah Myles (singer).
Cornell also is planning to attend the Sportsmen Show in Toronto for five days during the March Break.
The booths at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair are obtained by invitation only and Cornell isn’t sure how the co-ordinators found her company five years ago, but she is glad they did.
Erin Rencher, of Erin’s Candy located near Sleeman, also was invited to the fair this year for the first time. Cornell said she represented the district well with her hand-dipped chocolate products.
Rencher could not be reached for comment prior to press time.