Ag Days kicks off the agricultural new year

Construction at the Keystone Centre is finally complete, 
and new space has been added for Manitoba’s biggest ag show

Kristen Phillips is straightforward when it comes to what attendees can expect at 2016 Manitoba Ag Days.

“We are 100 per cent pure farm,” says Phillips, Manitoba Ag Days general manager. “We have a very diverse selection of exhibitors who know they have a targeted market of approximately 45,000 attendees that come through our doors over the three days of the show. They see our event as a tremendous opportunity to promote their products and services.”

This year’s Manitoba Ag Days will take place January 19 to 21 at Brandon’s Keystone Centre. It has indeed become a kick-the-year-off-right event for Manitoba’s agricultural community.

“Manitoba Ag Days is the first agricultural show of the year and we are very excited about it,” says Phillips. “It is the one-stop shop for ag producers to visit and get the latest on technology, products and the ever-changing world of agriculture.”

Phillips says Ag Days is different from most regular trade shows. Folks who work, live and support the agricultural world can find the latest in farm equipment while taking in the demonstrations of rapidly changing technology and learning about agriculture services. There are a number of excellent speakers and the trade show is booked right up with displays, wares and equipment.

Over time, the popular farm show has continued to grow and has remained proudly committed to agriculture. In fact, some of the exhibitors have been coming to Manitoba Ag Days for more than three decades. At the outset, the big event was originally known as the ‘Weed Fair,’ and was held both in Brandon and Winnipeg. It later became Manitoba Ag Days and held in Brandon only, and eventually grew into Canada’s largest indoor agriculture show. Brandon’s Keystone Centre is the perfect venue as it provides 10 acres of floor space that Phillips says will be filled with more than 500 exhibitors.

More than 45,000 visits were recorded to Brandon’s Ag Days in 2015.

More than 45,000 visits were recorded to Brandon’s Ag Days in 2015.
photo: Jennifer Paige

Longtime exhibitors

Phillips has been around Manitoba Ag Days since 2008 as a volunteer, board member, producer and now this year, general manager of the event. She says she sees familiar faces every year. In fact, some have been taking part in the show since the days of the Weed Fair. Phillips lists Redfern Farm Services, BASF and Wheat City Seeds as longtime exhibitors along with many others.

This year’s Manitoba Ag Days will jump-start with a kickoff breakfast on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7:30 a.m. Show attendees and exhibitors can get their show off to a great start before their busy day ahead with a country-size breakfast at the Roadhouse Inn located in the CanadInn attached to the Keystone Centre for a minimum donation of a toonie. All proceeds are slated for Manitoba Agriculture in the Classroom program as Manitoba Ag Days is committed to Youth Education in the Agriculture Sector.

Ag days 5_JenniferPaige_cmy.jpg

Bull Congress relocated

Phillips happily points out that ongoing construction has now been completed in the massive Keystone Centre. She says the show has not only regained previous space, it has also expanded for the show.

“The Bull Congress has been permanently relocated to Barn 11 and is accessible through the northeast corner of the Kinsmen Arena,” says Phillips. “The building has recently undergone some major upgrades and will be an excellent venue to house the bulls. You will also see that some of the cattle-related exhibitors have been moved into the Kinsmen Arena.”

The show will also continue the use of the outdoor displays that offer visitors the opportunity to look at products and then dash back inside to talk about the product with the exhibitor. The outdoor displays provide a great opportunity for Ag Days attendees to see the equipment in operation rather than looking at a picture in a brochure and having to follow up later with a visit to the dealer.

Phillips is supported on the Manitoba Ag Days management team by administrative assistant and key organizer Christine Roskos. The pair is proud of the community spirit that Manitoba Ag Days brings to the Brandon area.

“There is so much more to our show than just the show — we would love for a master’s student to do an economic impact study of just how big of an impact Ag Days has on Brandon and Manitoba,” says Phillips. Roskos says the vibe of excitement around the 50-50 tickets is sure to be felt again this year.

“50-50 tickets are available for purchase on site during the show hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Last year the show was able to sell $18,310 in tickets,” says Roskos. “Manitoba Ag Days was proud to make a presentation of $9,155 to three ag-related charities last year — Manitoba Farm and Rural Support Services, Manitoba 4-H and Manitoba Youth Beef Roundup. The other half of the winnings went to one lucky winner, a dairy farmer from Brandon Hills.”

2016 Manitoba Ag Days looks on track to continue its well-earned reputation as the showcase of Manitoba agricultural production expertise, technology, and equipment that attracts exhibitors and visitors from across Canada and the upper plains of the United States.

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