July 18th, 2024

Ag Expo heralded as a success

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 7, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Ag Expo visitors take in exhibitor displays as they explore the grounds last week at the Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The first edition of Ag Expo in the new Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre is a wrap and it was hugely successful, according to director of community engagement Paul Kingsmith.

Ag Expo was the first event at the Hub since its opening last summer to utilize every square foot of the facility during its three-day run which attracted more than 300 exhibitors. Attendance was up more than 6.5 per cent over 2023, said Kingsmith Wednesday.

“Ag Expo was amazing this year. The new building really created new opportunities in every way to reimagine what the event can actually look like and what it means to the ag community. To bring it all together under one roof just sort of helps create those connections in the industry. The response was fantastic,” he said.

“We saw growth in the event, both in what it was able to be and show to the ag community.”

This year, farming equipment which used to be showcased outside the old Exhibition pavilions, was brought inside thanks to the larger space.

“It’s a testament to the venue and what it can do for a show to have it all together and I think it’s something that exhibitors really liked, as well,” he added.

“It’s visually stunning when you walk in and see some of that equipment lined up and full-sized grain bins and that kind of thing. As we look forward we’ll continue to look and maybe go back to some smaller version of the outside presence with some of it inside,” he added.

“But it’s definitely a new and fun experience to have it all there together.”

The amount of business that gets done and the number of connections that are made at the show was emphasized this year by exhibitors and guests.

Farmers and producers could find things they knew they were looking for but they also had the opportunity to learn about things like drones that they didn’t know about or didn’t know they needed, Kingsmith said.

The venue is hosting a wide variety events including the wildlife festival this week, upcoming the home and garden and leisure show and planning is already underway for the farmers markets starting in June and running until October in the UFA Hall and downtown from July until September.

And planning is well underway for Whoop-Up Days and the pro rodeo in August. Whoop-Up Days runs Aug. 20-24 and the rodeo from Aug. 22-24.

With each big event being staged, more people see the venue and what it can mean to the city, Kingsmith said.

“The feedback through Ag Expo is great and I expect with every event and the more this can bring to the community, the better it is,” he added.

The facility has hosted some big events prior to Ag Expo which was unique in that there were ancillary events held throughout the trade show. Exhibitors and businesses could have meetings with clients on site, there were breakfast meetings as well as lunches, dinners and late-night parties throughout the event.

“So this was really the first time where one single event took over every part of the building and used it to its capacity,” he said.

“We learned more about the capabilities of what this venue can do and what it can mean to this community in a week than we had in many weeks prior. Just to see an event of that scale is pure excitement as to what we can do with it in the future.”

The event attracted people not only from Alberta but B.C. Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Montana.

Two highlights were the North American Seed Fair which had more than 140 entries in 25 classes and the tech zone which showcased the latest in agriculture technology.

Next year’s Ag Expo is slated for Feb. 26-28.

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