Organizers say it was a happy coincidence that the 50th Canadian Western Agribition in 2020 will begin on exactly the same day as the very first show in 1971.
As this year’s show wrapped up last week the half-century milestone was already on everyone’s minds. Agribition will begin a little later than it typically does and run Nov. 30 to Dec. 5 because Regina is hosting the Grey Cup the week before.
And, it will be the scene of a whopping 11 national breed shows.
“Something that’s never happened before and unlikely to happen again,” said president Chris Lees. “It guarantees that the 50th Agribition will be host of the largest gathering and the best purebred cattle anywhere.”
Livestock entries were down a little from last year after the difficult fall.
Attendance at the 49th show was strong, but final figures weren’t available at press time.
Chief executive officer Chris Lane said opening day was the strongest in recent years. Admission was free that day thanks to a partnership with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, which will extend to the 2020 show.
He said the number of international buyers would be higher than last year. With a day left in the show, the 2018 figure had already been surpassed. The largest official delegation was from Sweden, while delegates from Mexico, Kazakhstan, Australia, Scotland and elsewhere also attended.
Qualified buyers from first-time visiting countries came from Azerbaijan, Denmark and Portugal.
A delegation from Ghana’s largest trading house, Charlie Boy Enterprises, also attended.
“They’re in the market for not just some of the genetics they might see here but everything from machinery to learning about farming practices,” said Lane.
Agribition added more registered programming for schools this year, and registration for its agripreneur conference was up 100 percent.
Lane said the next year will feature announcements of special programs for the milestone show.
Last time Regina hosted the Grey Cup, the show was held before the game, but Lane said it made more sense to go afterward given the cattle show calendar.
The team and the show have overlapping stakeholders, as well as sharing space on the Evraz Place grounds, he added.
Lees said the excitement for the 50th will build throughout the next year and Lane added it’s also a good time to talk about what the next 50 years should look like.
Adding excitement to this year’s show was the sale of a pick of the 2019 heifer calves from Hamilton Farms of Cochrane, Alta., for $95,000 to top all lots during the week. Covey Hill Ranch from Quebec was the buyer.
Agribition announced a $100,000 contribution to the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence at Clavet, Sask., over the next 10 years. The money is to fund the centre’s annual producer field day and contribute to the capital campaign.
Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit and his federal counterpart Marie-Claude Bibeau attended the show and announced $100,000 through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to continue the CWA Next Gen Agriculture mentorship program. The current group of mentees spent time at the show last week and eight people will be chosen to participate in the 18-month program next year.
Scholarship winners were also announced last week.
Winners of $2,500 CWA scholarships were: Brandy Fettes of Gladmar, Sask., who intends to become a registered massage therapist for animal massage and chiropractic treatments; Shelby Lockie from Balgonie, Sask., who is completing an associate of arts degree at Miles Community College and intends to pursue communications and public relations; and Baxter Blair of McLean, Sask., who plans to study animal health and become a veterinarian.
The Barry Andrew Family Scholarship of $1,500 went to Emily Letendre from Spruce Home, Sask., who is in her second year studying animal bioscience at the University of Saskatchewan.
And the William M. Farley Memorial Scholarship of $1,500 went to Cheyenne Porter from Wainwright, Alta. who is also studying animal bioscience and plans to become a veterinarian.