It’s going to be yet another quiet week at Brandon’s Keystone Centre, when normally there would be tens of thousands of visitors.
On Aug. 18, Manitoba Ag Days announced that it would be cancelling its in-person show for 2021, due to COVID-19. Despite speculation on how some form of the show might go ahead online, the organization announced in December that it would not be proceeding with a full virtual event.
“We did not want to compete with the smaller events and/or conferences that were going to be able to go forward in 2020-21 as we will always be a trade show first,” a Dec. 10 release read. “We are Canada’s Largest Indoor Farm Show and a great deal of that success is attributed to our amazing exhibitors and long-term sponsors.”
Why it matters: A digital publication, Innovations Showcase and the organization’s charitable efforts will be all the Ag Days producers will be able to get this year.
But while the event’s usual lineup of speakers and rows upon rows of exhibiters will have to wait for another year, the board also announced that the seven categories of the Innovations Showcase would return. Details on the products highlighted in the showcase would appear on the Ag Days website, the board said, as well as being promoted across social media and in the Ag Days 2021 digital publication.
“With no show we wanted to help these companies launch their products all while keeping our patrons informed and up to date,” the Dec. 10 release said. “We surveyed our clientele and every survey told us the same thing. Farmers do not want virtual events; they want the ability to socialize and interact with the exhibitor.”
The digital publication, available on the Ag Days website, includes exhibitor contacts, deals offered by those exhibitors and show sponsors during January, Innovations Showcase information and recipients of the annual Ag Days Gives Back campaign.
Among the funds provided through the Ag Days charitable efforts, the board announced support for Ag in the Classroom’s 2021 virtual ag adventure (an effort to pivot Ag in the Classroom events under COVID-19 conditions) and $1,000 each for 15 childcare facilities province-wide.
“Our board and management team unanimously agreed to continue this program and have chosen to support a very timely area of need,” the Ag Days digital publication reads. “Childcare is critical in the function of our rural communities and has been a major challenge in these changing times.”
An online 50/50 will replace the in-person draw that normally drives funds for the philanthropic campaign, the Ag Days board also said. That draw runs until Jan. 22.
This year’s Innovations Showcase saw 44 entries vying for wins in seven categories — agribusiness services, ag technology, agronomics, farm-built solutions, farm safety, ag equipment and animal and livestock.
Winners included Saskatoon’s Adaptive Ag Solutions, which won the ag tech category for its portable and expandable electronic BinStick bin probe, AGvisorPRO, which added another agribusiness innovations win after taking a similar category at last summer’s virtual Ag in Motion event, and Bayer CropScience, topping the agronomics category for its BUTEO flea beetle seed treatment. Kansas company Bar C Innovations took the farm-built solutions category for its Quick Pin, touted faster and easier implement unhooking. The Tiregrabber won the farm safety category for its implement, used in safe large tire changing. Winkler’s NorBin earned accolades in the ag equipment category for its bolt-together hopper with full floor aeration, while Arrowquip took the animal and livestock category for its portable cattle chute, alley and collapsible tub.
“The depth of this field and the unbelievable quality in the entries this year were outstanding,” a Jan. 4 release read. “Our committee took the approach of what innovation would have the biggest impact on the entire sector of that category; which wasn’t always easy but we feel like we have selected the best choice.”
Category winners were announced in early January, with a vote for the Farmer’s Choice Grand Prize winner to take place online Jan. 11-22. Winners in each of the seven categories faced questions from the public during an online event Jan. 14. Producers can vote at www.agdays.com/vote2021, with the winner to be announced Jan. 25.