To celebrate its 35th anniversary, Agri-Trade is aiming to be bigger and better even while getting shorter.
The former is already taken care of with the opening of Exhibit Hall at Westerner Park in Red Deer.
“We are going to be the first event to take place in the new building,” said David Fiddler, Agri-Trade show manager.
The new 70,000-square-foot building connects the Stockmens Pavilion and the Agricentre West, replacing a tent that used to provide cover for attendees. The new hall will allow for some of the outdoor exhibits to move inside, said Fiddler.
The show’s organizers are also grouping exhibits a little differently. This year, the Agricentre East will be home to Livestock Central.
“That’s basically where the majority of the livestock-related exhibits are going to be, in terms of livestock handling, feed, and balers,” said Fiddler. “All the stuff that pertains to the livestock community will be, as much as possible, grouped in one area.”
Some other areas will also see themed grouping, including grain transportation equipment in the Centrium while the Harvest Centre will feature products for the home (and not necessarily for agriculture production).
“We’ve changed the layout of the show, so it provides better movement of the people — it’s a lot harder to get lost and miss exhibits,” said Fiddler. “If you walk the show properly, you’ll get to see everybody.”
This year, there will also be a smartphone app for Agri-Trade available which will feature all the guides and exhibitors.
“We’re very excited about the show app,” he said. “For example, if you wanted to find an exhibitor that was at the other end of the grounds, if you click on the exhibitor you are standing by and the one you want to go to, the app will map out how to get there.”
Also new for this year is a dining guide.
“It will identify clearly on a map all the good places to eat on the grounds. We’re changing things up.”
While there has always been a buffet upstairs, the show will be adding another at the Agricentre East. The dining guide should also help alleviate the lineup at the main concessions. Fiddler said many times there were long lines at some concessions and no places to sit, while others didn’t have any lineups and plenty of seating.
The dining guide will also highlight producer commodity groups present at the show. This year there will be a food truck on the grounds if you want a coffee or a bite to eat while visiting the outdoor exhibits. But if you prefer to stay inside, check out the new Producer Lounge, which will be located in the Centrium, as well as in the Parkland and the Agricentre East.
“There will be lots of places to sit, and visit and network with your friends,” said Fiddler.
This year’s show will also feature a symposium on rural crime at 10 a.m. on Nov. 9 called “Creating Solutions Together.” Speakers include RCMP officers, the director of integrated community safety with Alberta Justice, and several MPs.
“People could come and go, but there’s lots of good information on ways to minimize your risk as a rural resident,” Fiddler said.
But the biggest change this year is the move to shorten Agri-Trade by a day. It will now run from Wednesday to Friday (instead of the traditional Wednesday to Saturday).
“For several years, we’ve been conducting exhibitor surveys,” said Fiddler. “But especially the last two years, the response from exhibitors has been very emphatic that they wanted to see the show shortened — 76 per cent of our exhibitors wanted to go to a three-day show.”
A number of reasons for shortening the show were cited, he said. Since it often falls near Remembrance Day, it created significant extra costs for the exhibitors. They were having to pay workers at the show holiday pay. And exhibitors didn’t like being away from family on a long weekend.
“They spoke and we listened. That’s why we changed it.”
Fiddler doesn’t think going from a four-day to a three-day show is going to affect attendance.
“We will have the same amount of attendance, it will just be crammed into a shorter time frame,” said Fiddler, adding, “We have lots of exhibitors bringing lots of new products this year.”
There will also be some new technologies launched and demonstrated at the show, he said.
Agri-Trade runs from Nov. 7-9 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.