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Ag Days Ties Attendance Record

Manitoba Ag Days has ended its 33rd annual trade show by tying its all-time attendance record.

An estimated 36,000 people streamed through the turnstiles at the Keystone Centre Jan. 19-21, about as many as visited the show in 2009.

“We’re very happy with that,” said a weary but satisfied Owen Beever, Ag Days general manager.

The three-day show attracted just over 500 exhibitors, also about the same as last year.

Organizers had worried that construction at the Keystone Centre might disrupt attendance. Renovations underway in the convention hall focus on bringing the roof up to building code standards. As a result, the amphitheatre which usually houses extension seminars was unavailable. Sessions had to be moved to the hockey arena next door.

Beever said a 425-seat section cordoned off at the south end of the arena was smaller than the amphitheatre. But heavy drapery and a good sound system helped to block out noise from the crowd and neighbouring exhibitors.

It’s not known yet if the amphitheatre will be available in 2011. Dates for next year’s show are January 18, 19 and 20.

GOOD DAYS: ATTENDANCE AT THE 2010 AG DAYS LAST WEEK IN BRANDON MATCHED THE PREVIOUS RECORD OF 36,000.

The renovations also required organizers to reroute traffic flow and move long-standing exhibitors to different areas. But there were few complaints, said Beever.

Originated in 1978 as the annual Weed Fair, Ag Days has developed into one of the largest annual indoor agricultural trade shows in Western Canada. The show draws people from as far afield as Saskatchewan, North Dakota and other U. S. states.

While large farm implement companies dominate exhibition areas, small exhibitors are “the backbone of the show,” said Beever. Some say they get over 25 per cent of their annual business during Ag Days.

Beever described Ag Days as a one-stop shopping centre for farmers looking for ideas, new technologies and the latest information on farming. For that reason, organizers restrict exhibitors and seminar presentations solely to agriculture.

The show may have gotten as big as it can. Beever said the Keystone Centre doesn’t have a lot more room for expansion. Visitors sometimes have to stay overnight in neighbouring towns because hotel capacity in Brandon is limited. [email protected], com

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