Optimism abounds for 2010 economic outlook

From tractors and combines to toys, cooking supplies and gadgets Agri-Trade had something for everyone. Organizers estimate the four-day event, from Nov. 11 to 14, drew in 70,000 people to Westerner Park in Red Deer.

After spending all day at the Agri-Trade show Jessica Declercq

From tractors and combines to toys, cooking supplies and gadgets Agri-Trade had something for everyone.

Organizers estimate the four-day event, from Nov. 11 to 14, drew in 70,000 people to Westerner Park in Red Deer.

“As far as an economic barometer, I think Agri-Trade is proving that everything is good to go. We’re heading into 2010 with a very optimistic attitude,” said Patrick Kennedy, event manager of Agri-Trade. Numbers were highest on the first day, when 21,000 people stepped through the doors to go to the show.

In its 26th year, Agri-Trade brought people not only from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia, but even had two delegates from Nigeria and three from Kazakhstan.

Kennedy said the nice thing about Agri-Trade is that every time a farmer leaves $10 at the wicket or an exhibitor puts money down for a space or sponsorship the money stays in Red Deer.

“It goes to the Westerner. It goes to the Chamber of Commerce and it stays in this community. It pays wages, it keeps people employed in this area and it definitely impacts on our retail enterprises in town,” he said.

There were more than 430 exhibitors this year, offering sleek new tractors, time saving inventions and things of a more pampering nature, such as foot massagers and bath supplies.

The show is a project of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce and the Westerner Exposition Association.

Doug Hilsabeck, president of Renn Mill Center Inc., was one of the exhibitors at the four-day event showcasing his company’s merchandize.

Renn Mill Center Inc. has been at the show for 26 years — with Hilsabeck there for all but one — and this year the company was one of the Ag Innovations program winners for its grain bag unloader.

The unloader is special because it not only unloads the bags, but also processes the plastic for recycling, saving a farmer several hours of work each day.

“Agri-Trade always has lots of traffic,” Hilsabeck said. “It’s our biggest local show.”

He said he has seen the volume of traffic and the size of the show grow over the decades he has attended.

Agri-Trade uses every available building at Westerner Park, along with having a parking lot full of outside exhibitors.

This year’s theme was What’s New in Agriculture and featured the newest GPS technology and alternative power generation.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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