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Forty… plus one

Manitoba Ag Days rolls into Year 41 with a celebration of young farmers

After a barnburner of a 40th anniversary show last year, Ag Days is going to be focusing on young farmers for 2018.

You’ve turned the Big 4-0, you’ve had the big celebratory splash with all your besties and it was one heck of a party… so… now what?

Well, if you’re the organizing crew at the 2018 Manitoba Ag Days, you get right back in the saddle and build off your very successful 40th Manitoba Ag Days celebration in 2017 by bringing the future of farming into the mix for 2018. In fact, organizers have declared the 41st annual Manitoba Agriculture Days show as the Year of the Young Farmer at Brandon’s Keystone Centre, January 16-18, 2018.

“Times are changing in agriculture and we want to embrace the change and empower the next generation,” said Kristen Phillips, Manitoba Ag Days general manager. “We have lots of young farmer events happening at our show this year.”

Phillips is particularly excited about hosting a Young Farmers Luncheon on Tuesday where the Hon. Ralph Eichler, minister of agriculture will attend. Phillips advised that agriculture students from University of Manitoba and Assiniboine Community College would be taking part throughout the show and networking at the Young Farmers Lounge.

“We have several young farmers speaking on our program in the two theatres over the three days; and as a group, all of the young farmers will be introduced and acknowledged,” says Phillips.

Brad Crammond, Manitoba Ag Days co-chair and a producer from Austin, feels the timing was perfect to celebrate the future with the Year of the Young Farmer.

“The demographics on the farm and the industry are changing,” said Crammond. “We had a lot of fun reminiscing about the past at the 40th anniversary last year and now we are excited to celebrate the future.”

With the future of farming positioned in the spotlight via the young farmers focus, Phillips said the 2018 show will be the gold standard of excellence that attendees and exhibitors have come to expect from Canada’s largest indoor farm show. The event is a three-day exposition focusing purely on agriculture and has remained proudly committed to ensuring all exhibitors, speakers and presentations are strictly agriculture related.

The 100 per cent pure farm approach has consistently attracted visitors from all over Canada, the northern United States and overseas to attend the world-class event.

“We have over 550 exhibitors and 50,000 visitors yearly to our incredible show and facility,” says Phillips. “We focused on those numbers and stayed to the basics that makes it great for all. We are ecstatic to partner with the Brandon Curling Club and the Keystone Centre for the next five years to secure the square footage that we first had at the 2017 anniversary show; which added 19,200 square feet to our show last year and we filled every single square inch of the facility with loyal and dedicated exhibitors.”

Phillips says last year’s Brandon Curling Club transformation was a tremendous success and had such a positive impact on the show that there was no question they needed to utilize the agreement once again and in future years.

Phillips also points to the speaker lineup as having a purely agriculture focus of interest to farmers.

“We ramped up our speaking lineup with lots of “real” topics. We took a real focus on agronomy, economics and livestock and we also received approval for 22.5 continuing education units for all of the certified crop advisers out there,” said Phillips.

Phillips says there are 17 entries in the new products and 14 entries in the Inventors’ Showcase this year, numbers that she was very pleased with, as well as the 10 entries into the farm safety feature of the show. Bull Congress is jam packed again with 35 entries. The competitions and entries are all promoted on the newly revamped Manitoba Ag Days website and at the show with show signage. Phillips says the updated website is a must visit for attendees and exhibitors alike.

“The Manitoba Ag Days website has been updated with new interactive maps that are easily accessible and easy to use to make your plan before or during the show; food vendors, washrooms and every exhibitor booth has been clearly marked on the interactive maps,” Phillips said.

Phillips says her team relies heavily on attendee and exhibitor feedback to make sure they hit the mark from year to year.

“We took a look at all of the surveys from last year and stuck to the majority vote to keep this a Free Admission, Free Parking, Family-Friendly Event,” Phillips said. “But most of all we listened to our exhibitors and made changes within the floor plan to meet the requests of our exhibitors. Without the 550-plus exhibitors in our show we would not still be existing as a farm show in Canada, let alone be Canada’s largest indoor farm show.”

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