Small-town show hits the big time

The cattle show in Perdue, Sask., saw the number of exhibitors and animals double this year after it became a qualifying event for Canadian Western Agribition.  |  Supplied photo

Perdue, Sask., show becomes Agribition’s only qualifying event in Saskatchewan this summer amid COVID cancellations

The cattle show in Perdue, Sask., stepped up and out this year.

For the first time in its 64-year history, the July 23-24 show was designated a Beef Supreme qualifying show for this year’s Western Canadian Agribition, the only qualifying show in Saskatchewan this summer.

“It’s exciting for a little ag society to get this honour to represent Agribition,” said Shelley Andrews, board member on the Perdue Ag Society and secretary for the cattle show.

Winning the Perdue Cattle Show Beef Supreme from the Angus bull division was Wilbar Greenlight 838H, owned by Bryan and Tracey Wilms of Dundurn, Sask.

On the female side was a Hereford pair, HMS Hi-Cliffe 225D Glamour 32G with calf at side HMS Hi-Cliffe 6153 Jupiter 23J, shown by Morgan Millham of Outlook, Sask.

The Perdue event also included a junior cattle show, prospect steer show, commercial cattle show, jackpot heifer and jackpot steer show.

Andrews said the opportunity for Perdue presented itself after the Prince Albert Exhibition Summer Fair was cancelled for the second consecutive year due to COVID-19. It has been the only qualifying summer show in the province.

“We thought, let’s see if we can step up and fill that space and give producers a chance to get to the Agribition Supreme,” said Mike Millar, co-chair of the show’s beef committee.

The Perdue Ag Society contacted the Agribition board of directors in June and Perdue was granted status as a qualifying show on July 5.

Maguire Blair prepares his bull, Red U2 Revival 147G, for the ring. | Supplied photo

Shawna Fuchs, livestock and rodeo manager at Canadian Western Agribition, said many Agribition regulars are aware of the Perdue fair’s reputation.

“Some of our main exhibitors attend Purdue and we know the cattle that come out of there. We hoped this would create a new avenue for our exhibitors that exhibit at summer shows that were cancelled. And we know that they’re a well-run fair and exhibition,” she said.

“It’s humbling when shows want to be part of what we do. We were excited that there’s another avenue. We were scratching our heads on what can we do now that the summer shows are gone. And when Perdue stepped forward, it was a perfect opportunity for our exhibitors to get another chance at it.”

Before COVID-19, Fuchs said there were 16 qualifying shows, which included four from the United States. However, the total has been cut to 12 this year.

“We gained Perdue and we have lost four summer shows,” she said.

Along with Prince Albert’s event, other cancelled qualifying summer cattle shows include the Harding Fair in Manitoba, the Interior Provincial Exhibition and Stampede in British Columbia, and the Nova Scotia Elite Beef Expo in Truro. The Royal Winter Fair in Toronto is the only show cancelled this fall.

“I think the Beef Supreme and the summer shows work very well together. If an exhibitor wants to qualify for the Beef Supreme and they want to make sure that they get in, they’re going to attend some of these smaller shows to try and get a qualifier,” said Fuchs.

“I’m not saying that it completely increases their entries and that’s why people go to the shows, but it’s an added venue for them.”

Andrews said receiving the status came with a new set of challenges after 78 exhibitors and 130 head of cattle quickly entered the interprovincial event, which doubled totals from previous years.

“It’s been a track race to get everything organized to look after a bigger event — kind of a marathon for a little ag society to get all this done,” said Andrews.

Added Millar: “The cattle have to be quality cattle but also your judges need to be as well.”

He said sponsorship increased as community members and businesses from Alberta and Saskatchewan helped increase the prize money to more than $12,000.

“We really wanted to make this a first-class show. In fact, we’ve been upgrading facilities at Perdue to make it better, just in case we did become a qualifying show for next year and beyond,” he said.

Dale Shillington, director in charge of the Prince Albert beef show committee, said they plan to resume next summer’s event as an Agribition qualifier.

“We’re certainly hoping that P.A. is back next year as a qualifying show and there’ll hopefully be two summer shows in Saskatchewan, if not more,” said Millar.

“I’m just glad that they allowed us to be part of that. Agribition is a great program. When the Beef Supreme comes around in November, there’ll be somebody carrying the sign for the Perdue cattle show and that makes us feel pretty proud.”

Added Andrews: “It’s something new to challenge ourselves and to put our little town on a map. We’re trying to do our best to represent Perdue and give the cattle guys a place to market their animals, do some correspondence and networking, and maybe lean on each other a little bit, trying to figure things out during a drought.”

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