Outside of slower than usual traffic on its final day of operation, organizers of the 2019 Manitoba Ag Days trade exhibition have deemed the event a success.
In fact, just days after closing, the show’s management had already come full-circle, promoting the 2020 event on its website, agdays.com.
“There are always things to improve and grow on,” Ag Days general manager Kristen Phillips said on Friday. “I spend a lot of time making floor plans and working with exhibitors and we’ve already started booking speakers for 2020. The board will get together in the next week to have a big debriefing and then the whole process starts over again.”
This year’s show was held at the Keystone Centre Jan. 22 to 24, attracting an estimated 45,000 patrons who viewed a full slate of agricultural-related commercial exhibitors showing the industry’s latest advancements in equipment, processes and information technologies. Phillips said above average attendance was experienced on Tuesday, followed by an average Wednesday and less-than-expected attendance Thursday. She suspected the cold weather had something to do with the final day’s patronage.
Nevertheless, the show remains in high demand for agricultural industry exhibitors. This year’s Ag Days hosted 35 new exhibitors with 14 new inventions, 19 new products and 13 farm safety features. The organization also has a long waiting list of others wanting access to the tens of thousands that attend the annual show.
“We’re holding a waiting list of about 90 people right now and from October on, we’re getting others calling and wanting to get into the show,” she said. “I honestly think there are well over 100 exhibitors who say they want to get into the show. If the Keystone Centre doubled in size, we’d be easily able to fill it.”
Those that were able to participate this year were generally happy with the three-days of exposure.
“We’re doing an exhibitor survey to get feedback from the exhibitors, but we haven’t heard very many complaints,” Phillips said. “Everybody I’ve talked to had a really great show and lots of good dollar numbers (sales) were shared. Many are saying it was their best show ever for sales. If they’re sharing that kind of information, it was a great show for them.”
New attractions to the Manitoba Ag Days included the Manitoba Social on Wednesday night. This feature provided a fundraising opportunity following this year’s Ag Days theme; “Tell Your Story – Be An Agvocate.”
A total of $28,000 was raised through the social’s live auction, silent auction, raffle ticket sales and 50/50 draw. The money will benefit Agriculture in the Classroom – Manitoba, which provides educational programs, activities and resources to teachers and students to learn more about agriculture and its impact on the province.
“(Raising that much money) really shows how proud our industry is to get involved and make that event successful,” said Phillips.
Meanwhile, money was also raised through the Ag Days’ Kickoff Breakfast Tuesday morning. Funding derived from this feature benefitted Manitoba Farm Rural and Northern Support Services, a non-profit organization that provides free, confidential telephone and on-line mental health counseling services to members of the province’s farm community.
The 2020 Manitoba Ag Days are scheduled for Jan. 21 to 23 of next year. The event will continue run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day with free admission.
“When I look at the actual show, I think there’s not a lot of things I would change. The show runs very well with exhibitors liking nine to five hours and patrons attending for free,” said Phillips. “The free admission means we can get all generations involved in the family farm attending.”