Agribition makes the most of its brand new facilities

Canadian Western Agribition will set records this year, say organizers.

They just have to wait for final figures to make it official.

“This has been a benchmark year for us in a lot of ways,” said chief executive officer Chris Lane as the 47th annual show wrapped up last week.

Cattle entries were up by more than 200 to fill the facilities to capacity.

Attendance was strong and will top the 120,000 mark.

As well, international attendance will be an all-time high. About 1,200 guests from at least 83 countries came to the show.

“They’re just overwhelmed with the facilities and hospitality and generosity from everyone involved in Agribition,” president Bruce Holmquist said of those visitors.

Exhibitors and visitors alike were impressed with the new International Trade Centre, which replaced old buildings with a modern, well-lit space that put the entire show under one roof. The show was able to use part of the space last year and the full 150,000 sq. feet this year.

Lane said that interconnectivity helped with the goal of making it easier for people to see more of the event.

Cattle exhibitors used words like awesome, tremendous and outstanding to describe the ITC.

Carlos Ojea from Argentina, who judges cattle around the world and did so at the RBC Beef Supreme Challenge, said the ITC is state-of-the-art.

“This is really as good as you can get anywhere in the world,” he told the crowd.

“This is so easy to judge here in this arena with this light and this environment.”

Riley Lafrentz from Wheatland Cattle Co. at Bienfait, Sask., said breeders bring their best cattle to Agribition.

“It’s nice to put them in a facility that showcases them and makes everybody really welcome,” he said.

Lloyd Wright returned to the show from West Brome, Que., after 14 years.

“It’s as nice a facility as you’ll see anywhere,” said the manager of Shadybrook Shorthorns.

“It’s amazing.”

Lane and Holmquist said they are already looking at how best to use the space next year. After observing how both cattle and people moved around in it, they will likely make some changes for 2018.

“We’re making notes on things like show ring design, marshalling area, making sure we’re doing as good a job as we can keeping the human traffic safe and the cattle traffic safe when they have to intermingle,” Lane said.

He said all exhibitors and vendors benefitted from the new building, even if they weren’t in it because of the increased traffic.

In addition to the ITC, the big draw of the week appeared to be goat yoga. It was held only on the first two days of the show but proved to be far more popular than expected, especially with younger visitors.

Holmquist said the core of Agribition is always the same, but it is good to introduce new programs that draw different audiences. The show prides itself on educating an increasingly urban audience about agriculture.

“This is the real deal here,” he said.

“We do it well as an industry and this is one of the few places that people get to see it and communicate with the actual producers.”

In the sale ring, the top selling animal of the week was a Charolais bull calf consigned by Serhienko Cattle Co., which sold for $55,000 to a group of four buyers.

The high-selling bison was a $25,000 two-year-old bull, the high-selling horse was a sorrel mare for $13,000 and the highest price in the sheep sale was $900 for a Canadian Arcott ewe.

In the commercial cattle sale, the grand champion pen of five bred Simmental-Red Angus heifers topped the sale at $3,400 each.

Agribition is conducting an economic impact study this year. Past studies have shown it pumps more than $20 million into the local economy and more than $50 million into the province.

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