Fertile sales ground

Tupperware and robotic vacuum cleaners aren’t things you’d expect to find at an agricultural show.

Angela and Richard Lutz ponder buying a Wall Climber as they watch the toy car scoot across a mirror at Agri-Trade on Friday. The agricultural show offers plenty of non-agricultural products.

Angela and Richard Lutz ponder buying a Wall Climber as they watch the toy car scoot across a mirror at Agri-Trade on Friday. The agricultural show offers plenty of non-agricultural products.

Tupperware and robotic vacuum cleaners aren’t things you’d expect to find at an agricultural show.

But these and other products with no apparent connection to crops or livestock are on display at Agri-Trade. In fact, few of the exhibits in the Salon area of the Prairie Pavilion — designated the Home Happenings section — have an obvious agricultural link.

Friday afternoon, Kevin Reilly was drawing small crowds as he sliced, minced and diced vegetables with a V-Slicer.

“This is a fabulous show to work,” said the Penhold resident, who demonstrates the V-Slicer at shows across Canada and was working his sixth Agri-Trade.

Mindful of his predominantly rural audience, Reilly was preparing food items like bread-and-butter pickles and sweet relish. At shows in large urban centres, he might focus on coleslaw and Chinese food instead.

“You’re basically looking at the farming community here, whereas you go to Toronto or Vancouver, there are different demographics — you’re looking at city folks.”

Not far away, Evan Mertin of Pearson’s Berry Farm was enticing passers-by with raison butter tarts and saskatoon pie.

“It gets people to stop and look,” he explained, adding that business had been good — with a lot of farm families stopping by.

One of the busier booths at Home Happenings was showcasing Wall Climbers — remote-controlled toy vehicles that were driving up and down a vertical mirror.

This is the first year for the Wall Climbers, said sales rep Micheal Gratton. But his fiancée Deb Keller, who owns Popcorn Plus Inc., is an Agri-Trade veteran.

“We’ve had other booths in here,” he said. “I know every year is a good year.”

Len Toepfer has found Agri-Trade to be fertile sales ground for his business, Aches and Pains B Gone, which sells magnetic therapy jewelry.

“A lot of the agricultural people, they’ve got a lot of aches and pains,” he said, noting the physical demands of farm life.

The exhibitors agreed that expanding Agri-Trade’s offerings beyond agriculture helps boost attendance by attracting farm spouses.

“Most of them are touring around with their husbands, and he’s out buying a combine or something,” said Toepfer.

“The husband will be off looking at tractors and stuff, and the wife will be walking around here,” echoed Mertin.

But there were plenty of men browsing the booths at Home Happenings, some of whom were shopping for wives, noted Reilly.

Dennis Smith, a Eurosteam Green Multi-Steamer demonstrator, had also observed men buying gifts without a female partner present.

“We’ve had probably more women, but the men have been very strong with it as well.”

Agri-Trade, which started Wednesday, wraps up today at 5 p.m. Admission to the Westerner Park show is $10, plus parking, with children 12 or under free when accompanied by an adult.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com