If lineups at the gate or vehicles searching for an elusive parking spot are any measure, Canadian Western Agribition succeeded in attracting a significant herd to the 41st annual show.
“We’re excited that the parking lots are full,” Agribition CEO and general manager Marty Seymour told reporters at Saturday’s wrap-up news conference. Nonetheless, he added that organizers will work with Evraz Place to try to address parking woes.
Last year’s edition of the six-day agriculture show and sale ended up losing $205,000 after a blizzard and colder temperatures saw about 125,500 people attend, a drop of roughly 11,000 on the five-year average. While figures from this year are still being tallied, Seymour is optimistic they will be up.
“Clearly the weather’s worked in our favour. We’ve had lots of years here where it’s been -20, -30,” he said of this week’s springlike temperatures. “Our turnstile traffic has been outstanding as the week moved on. Traffic continued to grow.”
That balmy weather also made for a few leaky roofs in the cattle barns, but Agribition organizers say they remain happy with the venue. “Agribition has multiple breeds in one spot, one location, one facility in central Canada. We’ve got great facilities to pull people in here,” said Seymour.
“It’s the biggest show in the country,” he added, noting Agribition pumps some $27-million into the Regina economy.
This year saw the loss of another major economic booster — the Royal Red horse show — which pulled up stakes after a dispute with Evraz Place management over costs.
But Agribition board president Bryan Hadland said the organization continues to have a good working relationship with its landlord. “We have absolutely no plans of moving out of Regina. We are here for the long haul,” he said.
However, one thing will change in two years time — the date. Because Regina will play host to the Grey Cup in 2013, Agribition will be held slightly earlier, from Nov. 11 to 16.
“We’re really looking forward to all the synergies that can be created by both events being in Regina,” said Seymour.
Organizers are also pleased with the continued growth of foreign interest, with about 800 international guests from 67 countries registered. Hadland said there was also a hike in U.S. visitors, from about 20 states. “We are the international marketplace in Canada,” he added. Buyers come in search of embryos, live animals and livestock semen.
New to this year’s show were an auctioneer competition, high school rodeo, and First Nations display.
But the core of Agribition still remains beef livestock shows and sales, attracting about 1,500 head of purebred cattle. Highlights of the livestock sales included a Hereford bull calf that sold for $46,000, part ownership in an Angus bull for $67,000, and a Simmental calf for $20,000.
Seymour is optimistic about a new generation of Agribition participants, with youth entries up significantly.
“It’s a sign of the vibrancy of agriculture (and) the food business that we’re in,” he said.
Planning has already started on next year’s Agribition, slated for Nov. 19 to 24.
Agribition CEO Marty Seymour (left) and Agribition board president Bryan Hadland (right) during a press conference held at Evraz Place in Regina, Sask. on Saturday Nov. 26, 2011.
Source: Leader Post