Agribition posts record school attendance

Organizers of the major livestock show in Regina say attracting young people is key to the future for the industry

A record number of schoolchildren attended Canadian Western Agribition last week and organizers say that is the key to a successful future for both the show and the agriculture sector.

Nearly 10,000 students were pre-registered through the annual event’s education program.

“I can’t say enough about that program and how important it is to Agribition,” said chief executive officer Chris Lane. “Any show like this or any industry wants to stay relevant as long as it can and do all the things it can to build the next group of invested people in it. To see something like Agribition not just holding its own with young people but actually growing it substantially year over year, I think that’s a success story for us.”

The 10,000 figure doesn’t include the children who came to the show with their families.

Lane said it’s important that children get the true story about agriculture by attending shows like Agribition.

“We’re not a petting zoo. We’re not a fair that way,” he said. “Anything that we do around livestock animals is tied to the industry, is tied to the real work that goes on in the livestock industry. It would be easy to run a petting zoo and do pony rides but I don’t think that’s in our future.”

Outgoing president Bruce Holmquist said he sees Agribition as a three-legged stool.

“There’s commerce, there’s education and entertainment. I think education might be one of the most important things.”

That said, the show generates millions in sales and economic benefits to Regina, Saskatchewan and Canada.

The high-selling animal of the event was a Hereford bull consigned by Harvie Ranching from Olds, Alta. The calf, Harvie OVHF Empower ET 5F, sold for $37,000 to Torch View Cattle Co. of White Fox, Sask., and the Empower Syndicate.

Two two-year-old bison bulls sold for $17,000 each, as did a gelding in the ranch horse sale.

The highest price in the commercial cattle sale was $3,600 for each of the five grand champion pen of Red Angus-Simmental bred heifers, and the high selling sheep was a $1,300 Suffolk ewe that was also named supreme champion.

Lane and Holmquist said their work through the show’s international market development program is paying off.

Cattle genetics were sold to Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Wales and the United States.

The 2018 show also marked the 20th anniversary of the RBC Beef Supreme Challenge, which brings together breed grand champions from several shows to compete for the ultimate title.

Miller Wilson Angus from Bashaw, Alta., won the first event and repeated last week with the supreme champion bull, DMM International 54D, which is co-owned with Glen Gabel Angus of Regina. The bull had been grand champion at the Lloydminster Stockade Roundup, Farmfair International in Edmonton and Agribition.

The female winner was also a Black Angus that competed only at Agribition. PM Echo 8’16, with calf Blair’s Echo 270F, was shown by Blairs.Ag Cattle Co. of Lanigan, Sask., and additional Argentine owners Carlos Ojea, Don Romeo and Roque Perez.

Holmquist said a committee has already been struck to organize the show’s 50th anniversary in 2020.

Final attendance figures for 2018 should be available in the next few weeks.

Agribition 2019 is set for Nov. 18-23.

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