Opportunity for breeders | Annual event draws international attention and promotes industry
EDMONTON — It’s a long way from Quesnel, B.C., to Edmonton, but for Rob Swann and his daughter, Erin Kishkan, it’s an important venue for purebred breeders.
“It’s exposure to other breeders and cattle producers,” said Swann, who travels to Canadian Western Agribition in Regina and to shows across British Columbia to promote his Limousin cattle, but makes an effort to attend Farmfair International, a five-day cattle show in Edmonton.
“It is the best way to get your name recognized, especially within the purebred industry,” said Kishkan.
“Besides the ribbons and banners, we’ve made lifelong friends and had opportunities to show our genetics and sell to other breeders all over Canada and North America,” she said.
The decision to bring nine animals to Farmfair is not made lightly by exhibitors, but it is an important marketing tool.
“It takes a lot of manpower, a lot of time and a lot of supplies,” said Kishkan, but cattle sales are made at the events. In recent years their Pinnacle View Limousin farm has sold embryos to China and semen to Australia.
Farmfair staff has also made an effort to make exhibitors feel welcome. This year, the event has added slip proof mats between stalls to improve cattle footing and organizers have promoted a welcoming atmosphere with free morning coffee and hot chocolate and an exhibitor reception.
For Layne Pickett of Ardrossan, just outside Edmonton, Farmfair is an international show close to home.
“For us locally, it’s fairly important,” said Pickett, who brought six Speckle Park animals to show.
“It’s costly, but it’s a valuable tool for promotion.”
The relatively small number of cattle in the Speckle Park breed makes it difficult to find enough numbers to host a show.
Breeders brought 22 animals to Farmfair, enough for a small show and a display of the breed, he said.
This year about 675 show cattle were brought to Edmonton for the event held Nov. 4 – 11, down slightly from last year. Show manager Dave Fiddler said while number of cattle are down, the number of exhibitors is up to 150 from 135.
“We have more exhibitors showing fewer cattle. I don’t think the number of cattle is a measurement of success,” he said.
With less farm help, it’s not always easy to find staff to come to the show. For the first time Farmfair has offered an event called Cattle Drive, where exhibitors can buy stall space for an animal without having to show it in the show ring.
“We’re trying to create an environment where the different types of marketing are available.”
Leonard Poholka of Breton West Herefords said he could point to the Hereford Genes promotional event as the reason for keeping Hereford numbers high at Farmfair.
“It’s what brought the population back up,” said Poholka, of Breton. About 90 Herefords were brought to the show.
Holding Farmfair in conjunction with the Heritage Ranch Rodeo and the Canadian Finals Rodeo also helps bring traffic into the cattle barns, said Poholka.
“I’m here because I’m trying to attract potential customers and let them know I have bulls for sale.”
Russ Horvey of Big Deal Galloway in Delburne, Alta., said Farmfair is the only cattle show he attends. It’s a venue where he can scratch his showmanship itch.
Farmfair is one of the few shows that holds a multibreed show for breeds like Galloway, which have too few cattle to host their own shows.