Best in the Westerner

Red Deer’s annual Agri-Trade Farm Equipment Exposition has impressed a lot of people during its 25 years.

Curt Kleoppel

Red Deer’s annual Agri-Trade Farm Equipment Exposition has impressed a lot of people during its 25 years.

But few have assessed the show’s venue with the experienced eye of the delegation that toured Westerner Park on Tuesday.

The city is playing host to the North American Farm Show Council’s annual general meeting, with representatives from many of the association’s 25 farm show members here this week. Among the approximately 23 visitors in Red Deer for the gathering is Curt Kleoppel, president of the council.

Kleoppel, who is on-site show manager of the Kansas City, Mo., Western Farm Show, described Westerner Park as an “excellent facility.”

He previously saw the home of Agri-Trade more than a decade ago, when the council’s AGM was last held in Red Deer.

“They’ve expanded a lot since 1998,” said Kleoppel. “It’s very well put together.”

Despite the global economic downturn, farm shows continue to do well, said Kleoppel.

“The farm economy is still in a thriving mode.”

That said, farm show organizers must work hard to attract exhibitors that will draw producers, and producers who will appeal to exhibitors. The number 1 priority is to make exhibitors happy, said Kleoppel, and the other number 1 priority is to keep attendees happy.

“The manufacturers are evaluating the shows a little heavier than what they used to, and they’re looking at their dollar and what they get for their dollar and what kind of sales leads and market potential they receive from the shows.”

Membership in the North American Farm Show Council is an important tool with which to attract exhibitors and producers, he said.

“To be a member of the North American Farm Show Council is like having the Good Housekeeping Seal on your show. You’re a proven show and a recognized show and a quality show.”

Members are evaluated every five years, and those deemed not up to standard could be suspended or even kicked out of the council, said Kleoppel.

Another benefit of the association is that it allows farm show managers to network and share ideas, he said.

The decision to hold the council’s 2009 AGM in Red Deer was motivated by Pat Kennedy, founder and manager of Agri-Trade and past-president of the council.

In addition to attending meetings Wednesday and Thursday, participants were scheduled to tour the Reynolds-Alberta Museum in Wetaskiwin, and were also encouraged to see other sites while in Alberta.

“Some people are staying through Friday and some are even staying through Saturday,” said Kleoppel.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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