Exhibitors work around stadium construction

REGINA — Canada’s Farm Progress Show failed to draw its usual rainstorms, until the hour after it ended, but it did bring in decent crowds.

Organizers said the numbers at the gates were down from some previous years, exceeded 2014 and exhibitor numbers were up for the 2015 show in Regina. Nearly 42,000 people went through the gates at the show.

Mark Allan, chair of the city’s exhibition board that runs the facilities for the show, said the show was considered a great success, other than some move-in issues with the City of Regina and its police service.

“The show attracts farmers that are here to make business decisions and examine their options and the crowd that Farm Progress’s exhibitors are looking for,” he said about the appeal of the more than 700 exhibitors and their 1,000 show booths.

The event is Canada’s largest trade show, taking up 1.8 million sq. feet of exhibit space.

Shirley Janeczko, who runs the show, said the expansion in farm industry suppliers at the event came in spite of concerns that construction of the new football stadium that takes up a big chunk of the exhibition grounds might put some companies off. However, that was not an issue.

“Actually, I think it was a draw for farmers and the trade,” Janeczko said.

“Seeing it under construction is really something, and a lot of (attendees) were over there, taking pictures and getting pictures taken with the new stadium in the background.”

Parking was limited on the site, but shuttle services were busy moving producers from off-site lots and hotels to the show grounds.

Allan said a $100 million renewal of Regina’s exhibition grounds is well underway, with a 120,000 sq. foot facility planned to replace the aging horse racing barns and the old Exhibition Stadium. Demolition is planned after the end of Agribition this fall.

The new football field’s meeting and entertaining facilities are expected to be a part of the show beginning in 2018, the year after it opens.

“And we are planning a rejuvenation of the Confederation park, as it will be next to the new stadium,” said Allan.

Pat Beaujot of Seed Hawk said producers attending the show weren’t as eager to buy as in previous seasons.

“Lower prices and some dry conditions are likely going to cause them to keep their wallets in their pockets more this year,” he said.

“There is a lot of new machinery on the farms right now.”

Darryl Menz of CIM in Humboldt, Sask., who has shown at the event for many years, said producers were “kicking the tires and planning for next year.”

“I was disappointed with the size of the crowds. We had some bin crane equipment that was drawing some interest, especially from the trade, but farmers are waiting to see what happens with the drought and prices,” he said.

The farm products manufacturing company still found the event drew the farmer customers they were looking for, but “spending is off for everybody that we talked to,” he said.

Added show chair Rene Carpentier: “Farmers still need the kinds of information and products that this show provides, despite lower prices out there.”

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