It was a major change, but Agri-Trade’s switch to a three-day format proved to be a success.
“That was a real positive move,” said Dave Fiddler, manager of the Red Deer ag equipment expo.
The move to a three-day format (from four previously) was exhibitor driven, with most wanting to be away from home for less time, particularly since visitor numbers tended to drop on Saturdays.
“This way they were able to spend their three days at the show, get their business done, and get home,” said Fiddler. “From a personal satisfaction view with our exhibitors, (the three-day show) was appreciated.”
This year’s event runs Nov. 6-8 (Wednesday through Friday).
The fear was that dropping the Saturday might impact those who couldn’t get to the show on a weekday, but there were no negative comments after last year’s event, said Fiddler.
“We gave people lots of notice, they knew early on we were going to run a three-day format.”
This year, attendees can expect some new exhibitors, and a bit of a change in some of the floor plans. Parking is also being enhanced, so attendees will be able to park and access the new exhibit hall more easily.
New products are always the hit of any trade show, and this year Agri-Trade is going to have its share of new launches.
“It is our understanding this year that there will be a number of companies introducing new products at the show,” Fiddler said. “Our focus is on our exhibitors and the new products they’re bringing. We will continue to help promote them with their new product lines and new services coming to the show.”
Many of these companies have said they will be bringing their experts to the show this year, said Krissy Edwards, Agri-Trade’s international events manager.
“They want to be sure those specialists are there to answer any questions on their equipment for show attendees,” she said.
Organizers are also excited by the new “Dragons’ Den” approach to its Ag Innovation awards, which will feature five contestants vying for $25,000 in prize money.
“We’ve elevated it,” said Edwards, noting this style of competition at a farm show is the first of its kind in Canada. “It’s open to the general public, and they get to vote as well.”
“We look forward to farmers participating, coming out, and voting,” added Fiddler.
The five finalists are Farmbucks, HydraGEN, DOT Autonomous Power Platform, Agrirepel and SIWI Combi Hitch.
“They will each have five minutes to make the perfect pitch to a panel of three judges, as well as the audience in the room — other exhibitors and show attendees,” said Edwards.
The contestants will have to answer the same question (revealed at the time of competition). Members of the audience will be able to vote and rate the contestants in real time on their cellphones via a special app and password revealed at competition time.
“There will be two prizes awarded; the Grand Prize Winner will receive $20,000 and the Farmer’s Choice Winner will receive $5,000,” she said.
International relations is very important in agriculture and has been on the radar for a few years at Agri-Trade.
This will be the third year that the 35-year-old show is hosting international visitors. The program started by tapping into FarmFair International’s inbound buyer program. As interest grew so did participation in the program.
“This year we’re definitely seeing an increase in international guests from multiple countries,” said Edwards. “We’re expecting anywhere from 80 to 120 guests on Friday of the show alone.”
Part of the international program includes private tours of the show, and making sure the guests get that one-on-one contact with companies they are looking to do business with.
The future of agriculture is with the youth and Agri-Trade supports the youth sector by providing bursaries to post-secondary students studying agriculture.
“We contribute a number of bursaries to the students of Olds College, Red Deer University (formerly Red Deer College), and Lakeland College,” Fiddler said.
About $22,500 will be awarded this year on Wednesday night (Nov. 6) during a reception at Agri-Trade for agriculture students.
“Our focus on youth at Agri-Trade goes beyond the bursaries, we also provide complementary admission to students from the colleges (usually organized by staff advisers) if they wish to attend,” he said. “As well, we also give complementary admission to any 4-H member showing proof of membership.”
Agri-Trade is held at Westerner Park in Red Deer. For more info, go to agri-trade.com.