With the book closed on the 32nd Agri-Trade, organizers are exhibitors are happy with what they called the best show in a decade.
The annual exposition of farming technology, innovation and equipment took over the Westerner this past week bringing in exhibits and people from all across Canada and from around the world.
A buoyant agricultural industry, driven this year by a better than expected crop lead to what Rob Saik, Agri-Trade chair, called the most upbeat mood at the annual event.
“Contrary to the rest of the economic news in Alberta, agriculture is vibrant,” said Saik. “The farmers here are quite optimistic, crops came in better than farmers had been thinking.”
Despite a severe drought in some areas in Alberta in June that led to some bad crops, Saik said by-and-large the season turned out better than anticipated.
About 425 exhibitors packed into the Westerner over the event that started on Nov. 11 and ran until Saturday. Though attendance numbers are not fully known yet, Saik said they had more in the first three days of this year’s Agri-Trade then they did in the four days of last year’s event. He said they anticipate a 30 per cent increase in attendance this year.
“Exhibitors are telling us this is the best show in 10 years,” said Saik. “Many people have done more business on the first day than they have done in an entire show.”
Agri-Trade is an even-split partnership between the Westerner and the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce, and one of the largest events either organization puts on every year.
“It’s an economic driver,” said Saik. “For many merchants in Red Deer Agri-Trade is the busiest week of the year, including hotels and restaurants.
“A lot of money gets spent through Agri-Trade week.”
Part of Agri-Trade’s continued success is when it takes place, in a shoulder season for many producers. It is after the end of the fall havest, with combining well completed and well before the start of the next seeding season. Several exhibitors were recognized for innovation during the trade show. Raven Industries of Sioux Falls, South Dakota for its Hawkeye Nozzle Control system, Airguard Inc. of Abbotsford, B.C. for its Blockage Prevention System and Agri-Data Inc. of Calgary for its mobile app.
“We came into the weekend wondering what it was going to be like, but it blew away are expectations,” said Saik.