Alberta farm show decides to go ahead despite COVID-19

The Agri-Trade Equipment Expo is moving forward as scheduled — under a canopy of safety.

As with past years and in spite of COVID-19, the crop production equipment show will take place at Westerner Park in Red Deer Nov. 11-13.

It’s all because of the guidelines set forth by Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy, said organizers.

“The Alberta government is very progressive and their plan for the recovery of the economy included allowing indoor trade events or trade shows,” said David Fiddler, show manager.

“Once they released their guidelines, we were able to finish our plans about how we could manage the show within their guidelines, and we are able to do that.”

Several precautions will be in place at this year’s event, which Fiddler said will exceed Alberta Health Services’ guidelines to provide an environment that minimizes the risk of transmission and ensures high levels of sanitation.

One of the key components is the implementation of one-way traffic, which will accommodate regulations around physical distancing throughout all buildings.

Three main entrances include one-way traffic for entry and exit to help eliminate lineups.

Floor plans have also been adjusted to provide more space so that all exhibitors can be physically distanced. Instead of being side by side per past practice, this year 10 by 10 foot and 10 by 20 foot booths will be readjusted to allow more space between.

The number of sanitizing stations has increased, as well as additional food service outlets.

Face masks are not currently required, but organizers are exploring options such as visors in order to meet regulations from the City of Red Deer and Westerner Park.

While he doesn’t think the show will reach the previous year’s numbers of 475 exhibitors, Fiddler expects more than 400 will take part.

“Some companies aren’t attending because they have corporate policies that don’t allow their staff to travel, but we’re about 75 percent sold already and we are getting new applicants every day,” he said.

“As well, some of the others are still trying to make up their mind. They have until next week to determine if they want to carry their deposit forward to 2021, or if they want a full refund, or if they want to be in the show,” he said last week.

Organizers have also attempted to deal with travel restrictions and issues surrounding quarantine and self-isolation.

“We’re looking at an interactive option where they can basically have a Zoom booth — where they can communicate with the people that come into their booth and have their showroom or their manufacturing facility highlighted on the other end and they can communicate back and forth freely with people that enter their booth,” he said.

“We’re not a virtual event, but I guess what I would term our event is kind of a hybrid event. There will be companies that are there in person. There will be companies that will be there virtually.”

Presale of tickets will begin Oct. 1 In an effort to reduce lineups.

Organizers want everyone to register online as much as possible, but they will still accommodate people who have not by using a dedicated gate for drop-ins.

“We need to register them whether they show up at the gate or if they purchase online. We have to be able to trace back everyone who was at the show and what day they were there,” he said.

Pre-registered online tickets sell for $15 per person, which includes parking, and a non-registered ticket at the gate is $25.

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