With the resounding success of David Chilton — “The Wealthy Barber” — speaking at Manitoba Ag Days, organizers will be looking to expand its non-agricultural attractions next year to draw even bigger crowds.
With approximately 37,000 visits over the three-day show, North America’s largest indoor agricultural event was “fantastic,” according to board member Kristen Philips.
“We feel the theatres had phenomenal attendance, every single room has been full,” she said.
“The red carpet has been packed, so that’s what we want. We want exhibitors to get the opportunity to talk to lots of people and they feel like they have.”
Organizers are always looking to grow the event, Philips said, and it will be focusing on the speaking attractions for next year.
“We’re talking about maybe doing more high-profile speakers,” she said. “We saw how having an inspirational or motivational speaker really drew the crowd to Ag Days, and we think bringing them here gets visitors in the door and gets them looking at the booths.”
She said all 47 of this year’s speakers were very well attended and want to see more urban visitors at the show next year.
“You don’t have to be farmer to come, we want everybody to come and take in Ag Days and learn about agriculture.”
Debra Hanna, exhibitor with KNR Ag Sales and Service out of Brunkild, said the event began on Tuesday with huge crowds, and quickly slowed by the final day — typically the day shoppers break out the chequebooks for big-ticket items.
“I think there was a lot of people here overall,” said Hanna, who has been a regular exhibitor for six years. “It’s always a good show.”
“Wednesday was a lot slower than it typically is.”
The show can only grow so big, with booths occupying nearly every square foot of the Keystone Centre, there was 100 exhibitors on the waiting list this year.
“If we could expand, we would,” Philips said.
During the three-day event, Brandon’s hotels and restaurants are packed, and Philips said the show can only grow by so much without accommodations for visitors.
“We know we have a huge impact, and if we could get another two hotels in Brandon, we can get more people,” she said, adding people stayed in surrounding areas such as Virden and Souris, and drove into the city to attend the event.
Planning for next year’s show starts at the beginning of February, but Philips didn’t give any details around what will be planned.
“We hope to have the amphitheatre back, which definitely gives us lots of opportunities, we may run three speaking areas (instead of two),” she said.