Exhibitors, crowds pack Westerner (photo gallery)

Central Alberta’s benchmark farm show continues to hum on all cylinders regardless of a weak economy and extreme hardships in the livestock sector.

Doug Hilsabeck of Renn Mill Centre talks with customers Jim Taylor of Westlock and Ken Dudar of Leduc about his grain bagging system his company is marketing at Agri-Trade this year.

Doug Hilsabeck of Renn Mill Centre talks with customers Jim Taylor of Westlock and Ken Dudar of Leduc about his grain bagging system his company is marketing at Agri-Trade this year.

Central Alberta’s benchmark farm show continues to hum on all cylinders regardless of a weak economy and extreme hardships in the livestock sector.

The 26th edition of Agri-Trade, one of North America’s premier farm equipment and technology shows, opened at Westerner Park on Wednesday with big crowds and a full line of about 430 exhibitors.

Barely into its second hour, the show was stopped at 10:45 in honour of Remembrance Day, holding its own memorial service in the central gallery, said show manager Patrick Kennedy.

The gallery was absolutely jammed with people who stopped what they were doing to take part in the service, said Kennedy.

Afterward, dignitaries and members of the show committee made their way to the Chalet to present innovation awards and student bursaries during the show’s opening luncheon.

Renn Mill Centre of Lacombe was one of the six winners chosen out of 13 finalists for a piece of equipment that unloads large plastic bags used as grain storage.

Capable of handling 110 bushels per minute, the unloader moves the grain from the bags directly onto grain trucks while bundling the bags themselves for recycling, said company representative Doug Hilsabeck.

Depending on the type of grain, each bag holds between 30,000 and 40,000 bushels of grain.

Storage bags were common 20 or so years ago, but fell out of favour because they were difficult to manage. Renn Mill Centre’s system makes the bags a more viable alternative to storage bins, said Hilsabeck.

Other Innovation Award winners include Farmers Edge Precision Consulting, Jaylor Fabricating, Moly Manufacturing and RTK Roydale Manufacturing.

Agri-Trade also awards eight student bursaries of $1,500 each to assist those who are pursuing careers in agriculture and related industry, split evenly between Olds College and Red Deer College.

Winners of the Olds College bursaries were Cody Coleman of Innisfail, Travis Page of Didsbury, Michael Schiedeman of Stony Plain and Kristina Peters of Linden.

The Red Deer College bursaries went to Leanne Ejack of Innisfail, Jessica Furniss of Rocky Mountain House, Shelby Reid of Red Deer and Genevieve Zeigner, who was the only student not present to accept her reward.

Shelby Reid, in accepting her bursary, expressed the importance of the bursary as a way of helping young people chart careers in agriculture.

“Without your ongoing support, year after year, students like myself would not be able to reach their goals.”

Agri-Trade also serves as the venue for presenting the Alberta Beef Congress student award, a legacy fund left for students after the show was disbanded.

Representatives Tom Towers and Jackie Brooks presented this year’s award of $1,500 to Trevor Deagle of Consort. Deagle plans to carry on with his family’s farm, which has operated for more than 100 years.

Agri-Trade is a joint project of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce and the Westerner Exposition Association.

The show runs daily through Saturday.

Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 per person, including parking.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

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