The annual farming and agriculture exhibition, Agri-Trade took place at Westerner Park this past weekend.
Agri-Trade Event Manager, Dianne Smirl said the event attendance for the year was down 10% from last year, which she explains was likely due to the weekend’s nice weather.
“We are kind of in a weird zone where really bad weather isn’t good for attendance but neither is really great weather because it gives farmers that extra time to work on the land,” said Smirl.
“We had traffic really spaced out over the four days with Saturday’s attendance being quite high compared to last year and exhibitors all told us they were very happy with this year’s show because people were buying – and buying lots.”
Smirl stated they had between 385-425 exhibitors each day during the 2014 show, adding that this year’s attendee survey results, filled out by consumers who attended the show, showed event staff that the show is in a generational transition phase.
“The attendee surveys have shown that there is definitely a younger demographic attending the show and this year’s Agri-Trade looked like stroller central with lots of young farm families which we love to see and next year’s event will be focused more on these younger generations,” said Smirl.
“Attendees have the power to change this show faster than I can by filling out our attendance survey and this year’s survey also showed us that a lot of people are coming to the show with the intention to buy and not just browse, as well as that people wanted us to be open longer in the evenings – so we will definitely try to integrate that into next year’s show.”
Event staff have seen anywhere from $40-60 million of economic impact on Central Alberta and Red Deer in particular over the years during the Agri-Trade weekend.
“So that means $40-60 million in purchases at the show, hotel rooms stayed in, fuel bought to get to the show, meals eaten out, and anything else they may have done during their stay in Red Deer,” explained Smirl.
“If I had to guess this year’s economic impact was much higher because our exhibitor entrance alone was between 2,500 to 4,500 people.”
The last economic impact report was done over four years ago but with Westerner Park receiving a new executive director in the coming months, Smirl stated they hope to complete another report in the next two to three years.
“If you look at some of the deals that are made at the show they can range in the millions and that’s why Agri-Trade is so important to our local economy,” said Smirl.