COVID-19 knocks Agribition off 2020 calendar

Organizers look to 2021, plan 'new digital experiences' in meantime

Another of the Prairies’ major agricultural exhibitions has removed itself from the 2020 schedule.

The 50th edition of Canadian Western Agribition, which was scheduled for Nov. 30 to Dec. 5 this year at Regina’s Evraz Place exhibition park, has been postponed to Nov. 22-27, 2021.

Organizers of the not-for-profit event said Wednesday they made the decision “in response to restrictions and recommendations” surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Anchored by beef cattle exhibitors, Agribition bills itself as the largest livestock show in Canada. Eleven national-level breed shows had been expected for 2020, along with horse, bison, sheep and goat exhibitors, professional rodeo events and an “extensive” agribusiness trade show.

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“Agribition has never missed a show in 49 years so this is tough,” CEO Chris Lane said in a release. “But we have already started making sure that CWA’s year-round work continues and we showcase Canadian agriculture to the community and to the world.”

The not-for-profit CWA organization said it plans to create “new digital experiences for exhibitors, international buyers and students” in the meantime and will also continue its work on mentorship, international market development, education and scholarships through 2020.

“This was a difficult decision to make, but the health and safety of our exhibitors, sponsors, volunteers, partners and guests is priority,” Agribition president Chris Lees, a cattle producer at Arcola, Sask., said in the same release.

“We owe it to everyone connected to Agribition to make the best decisions we can, even when they’re the hardest ones to make.”

Last November’s six-day edition recorded a total of 121,326 visitors, with over 1,300 international guests from 80 countries registered through its international program.

The CWA organization said Wednesday it still plans to host its annual general meeting June 25, but by way of webcast and conference call.

COVID-19 restrictions have already pushed several major Prairie farm shows, fairs and events to cancel, reschedule or move to online formats in 2020, including Canada’s Farm Show, Ag in Motion, the Canadian Beef Industry Conference, the Calgary Stampede, K-Days and the Red River Exhibition.

Saskatchewan’s re-opening plan currently limits the size of public and private gatherings to 15 people indoors and 30 outdoors. As of Wednesday, the province has 47 “active” cases of COVID-19; another 633 people are deemed recovered and 13 have died of the disease.

Phase Four of the province’s plan is expected to allow indoor gatherings of up to 30 people starting June 22, but only where space allows for two metres of physical distancing between participants.

Phase Five, in which the province would “consider lifting some long-term restrictions” such as limits on the size of public gatherings, does not yet have a hard date to begin. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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