A few highlights and a few hitches characterized a transitional year for Canadian Western Agribition last week.
The ability to use half of the new International Trade Centre for cattle, horses and sheep meant the show could accommodate more than 2,000 head even after the demolition of older barns.
“I haven’t had one negative comment all week on it. Maybe it’s my filter, but the exhibitors are just thrilled with the building,” said Agribition president Stewart Stone.
“They’re actually more excited about the potential of the building once it’s done.”
Construction should be complete for next year. Plans call for the International Business Centre to move into the mezzanine area, and the show ring to move from Exhibition Stadium.
The stadium was to be demolished last year but was left standing and is now slated to go down in the spring.
Final attendance figures won’t be known for a few weeks, but Stone said organizers believed the numbers were up.
“Our international component was very strong this year,” he said.
“We had over 1,200 guests from 66 countries, and we had 200 registered buyers from 16 countries. My sense is that this will be one of our best years ever for international sales.”
That includes genetics and short-line equipment sales.
“It is clear that the show is strong and continues to grow and expand even during this transition period,” Stone said.
Chief executive officer Chris Lane, who took on the role last summer, said ticket sales for rodeo and jousting surpassed last year’s totals, and livestock sales were strong.
The top seller was a two-thirds interest in a Hereford bull calf from Haroldson’s Polled Herefords of Wawota, Sask., selling for $70,000 to Medonte Highland Polled Herefords from Orillia, Ont., and NCX Polled Herefords of Westlock, Alta.
The high-selling bison was a $35,000 bull calf consigned by Bison Spirit Ranch of Oak Lake, Man., and purchased by Greg Pagan of Snowden, Sask.
In the reformatted horse sale, Kassidy Williamson of Mankota, Sask., consigned the high seller, a three-year-old mare that went for $17,500 to Frehlick Quarter Horses of Estevan, Sask.
Commercial cattle prices were lower than 2015, reflecting the current market. The top seller, a repeat of last year’s transaction, was a pen of five bred heifers from Mebs Ranch at Broadview, Sask., purchased by Palmer Charolais of Bladworth, Sask.
The difference was the price: last year the heifers went for $5,000 each and this year they sold for $3,950.
Lane said Agribition staff and others handled two stressful incidents capably and professionally.
On the second day a bull calf escaped the tie-outs area and headed west down a busy street during the morning commute. It was successfully caught and returned to the grounds.
At the pro rodeo’s second performance, a bareback horse went down after injuring its neck or spine and was euthanized after being removed from the arena.