Annual show reaches limit at Westerner

The fact that Agri-Trade will consume every square inch of building space at Westerner Park is nothing new — Red Deer’s annual farm exposition has been doing this for years.

The fact that Agri-Trade will consume every square inch of building space at Westerner Park is nothing new — Red Deer’s annual farm exposition has been doing this for years.

What is noteworthy about Agri-Trade 2010 is that the Nov. 10 to 13 show will also exhaust the usable display space outdoors.

“I’ve totally reached my limit,” said event manager Patrick Kennedy.

“That’s pretty much a first, because we’ve usually had the odd little driblet of outside space available.”

The more than 300,000 square feet of indoor space and 100,000 square feet outside will equate to about 430 exhibitors, said Kennedy, pointing out that some of these will occupy huge chunks of pavilions.

As of this week, the waiting list had swelled to about 80.

Indications are that attendance at Agri-Trade will also be strong, said Kennedy, noting that pre-sales of tickets are up sharply. Last year, the count was about 74,000.

Also encouraging is the list of organizations eager to attach their name to the event.

“Our sponsorships this year are higher than they’ve ever been in the 27-year history of the show.”

Some exhibitors have chosen Agri-Trade as the place to launch new products, most notably farm equipment giant New Holland.

A tiny Saskatchewan company also plans to hold its coming-out party at the Red Deer show.

Prairie Tech Enterprises Ltd. has developed a child-detection safety system called WearAbouts. A portable receiver placed in farm machinery like trucks and tractors will warn operators if a child wearing a wristband transmitter comes within about 150 feet, explained Travis Wiens, a partner in the venture.

The other owners are Travis’s wife Corrine, as well as couples Joe and Wendy Wecker, and Geoff and Kristine Vallance.

Travis explained that the Weckers, who moved to Saskatchewan from the Olds area several years ago, bought a similar product from Germany last year. They saw the potential for an improved, made-in-Canada alternative, and after joining the Wienses and Vallances, developed WearAbouts.

Agri-Trade, said Travis, will give them a “huge audience” to showcase their product.

“We thought it would be a great place to launch.”

Kennedy said most major exhibitors he’s spoken with have had a pretty good year. However, many smaller ones — particularly those active in the livestock sector — have struggled.

New to Agri-Trade this year will be the Fortis Alberta/AgriTrend Agrology Learning Stage, where presentations on a variety of ag-related topics will be conducted.

“That’s something that we’ve been waiting a long time to get to the show,” said Kennedy, adding that there was an education component in the past, but this will be much bigger.

Returning for 2010 will be Home Happenings, which focuses on the home — including fashion and health ideas. The Collector Toy Show is also back, but will move to improved space in the Harvest Centre.

The Ag Innovations Awards, which recognize advances in agricultural equipment and processes, are returning for a third year. And Agri-Trade will again feature the presentation of bursaries to Olds College and Red Deer College students who are pursuing careers in agriculture and related industries.

Agri-Trade is open to the public from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each of the four days. Admission is $10 a person, which doesn’t include parking. Children 12 or under who are accompanied by an adult will get in for free.

“Everything is just looking so positive,” said Kennedy. “If we can just get a break in the weather.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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