Visitors to last year’s Ag Days file through Westman Place.
Last year was a fabulous year for agriculture, so it’s small wonder the organizers of Ag Days 2014 are predicting it to be "the biggest and best show yet."
Earl Oxford Middle School student Deanna Lockie, right, poses for a photo with Elvis impersonator Kevin LaFlamme at last year's Ag Days.
Close to 500 exhibitors will set up shop at the show, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily Jan. 21-23 at the Keystone Centre.
"There will be everything from bulls to combines to nuts and bolts for sale at Ag Days, says Kristen Phillips, media co-ordinator for the event.
"We are Canada’s largest indoor farm show and we are 100 per cent ‘Pure Farm.’ Every exhibitor in our show is farming relevant, and we are proud of this criteria."
Phillips says there is also a "fantastic" lineup of speakers — including Prairie storm chaser Greg Johnson — for the three days of the show in the two seminar theatres.
Topics range from grain market outlooks, farm safety and stress and food safety to livestock management, land economics, farm finances and farm strategies.
"We’ve always said Ag Days is ‘Where The Ag Year Begins’ and this couldn’t be more true," Phillips said. "Once you get over the Christmas holiday season, it’s time to get serious and start planning for the next crop year — where better to do this than the red carpet at Ag Days?"
Ag Days is a non-profit organization that survives solely on the revenues from exhibitor fees and sponsorship. Organizers have never charged an admission fee and will continue this tradition into the future.
"We want everyone that wants to take in the show to have the opportunity to do so."
Have Your Say For Best New Product
The new products component is always an exciting attraction at Ag Days.
After meeting the entry criteria, eight exhibitors have been invited to set up shop and display their inventions.
For the first time, Ag Days patrons will get to vote for the best new product. You can vote at agdays.com or use the QR codes at the booths, which will have signage indicating the exhibitor is displaying a new product.
Voting begins on opening day Jan. 21 and wraps up at noon Jan. 23.
The eight entries and their booth locations:
• Ag Growth International — Optimist Arena
• Agromec Industries — Hitching Ring
• Decisive Farming — Ag Centre Complex
• Flaman — Kinsmen Arena
• Gatco Manufacturing — Barn 2
• Haukaas Mfg — Barn 4
• Max Quip — City Square Mini Arena
• Paradigm Precision — Main Street South
Rising Up From Weed Fair Roots
And now, for a little history.
The first Ag Days was held in 1978, making this year’s edition the 37th annual. However, in 1978, the show wasn’t called Ag Days — it was called the Weed Fair.
It was a much smaller, one-day event then. It was held in the Keystone Centre, which at the time was also much smaller (about 245,000 square feet) than it is today (540,000 square feet, all under one roof).
In the winter of 1978, a second Weed Fair was held in Winnipeg at the Convention Centre to try to draw more people into the event. Back then, the event was considered very successful, having 60 exhibitors and about 3,500 people attending the two events.
• In 1979, the Weed Fair expanded from a one-day show to a two-day show in both Winnipeg and Brandon.
• During the 1980s, several successful events were held and the show continued to grow along with its popularity. Attendance reached 6,000 for the two, two-day shows.
• In 1988, the event had moved away from its original weed control focus to become a much more general agricultural show. To reflect this move, the name changed to Manitoba Ag Days.
• In the late 1980s, the New Inventions Competition was added with the hope of showcasing new ideas and displaying the latest technology.
• 1992 was the last year the event was held in Winnipeg and the decision to run one show in Brandon was easy.
• In 1993, the event moved to Brandon permanently and expanded into a three-day show, which it continues to be today. It coincided with the biggest expansion ever of the Keystone Centre in 1992; with 165,000 square feet of space being added. The three-day show drew a crowd of 30,000 people.
• In 1995, the Farm Safety Expo was added to the show, a component which continues today.
• In 1996, the first Bull Congress was added to the show, to showcase live animals.
• In 2005, the Keystone Centre underwent its next major renovation and added another 100,000 square feet to its complex, including the Canad Inns. This expansion meant Ag Days could allow in an additional 100 exhibitors to showcase their products.
The Keystone Centre is currently 540,000 square feet, all under one roof, making Ag Days the largest indoor farm show in Canada. The entire Keystone Centre grounds is 90 acres, so there is ample room for parking and outdoor exhibitors at the show.
Organizers are expecting close to 38,000 people to attend the show over the course of the three days.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 9, 2014