It may have been a year of changes and in-betweens for the Canadian Western Agribition, but it was also a big year of the show.
Saturday morning, organizers didn’t have any attendance numbers to share, but did say they believe attendance will be higher than last year.
“The last two days have been really a full house, and parking lots are full, and the buses are very heavily used as well,” said Stewart Stone, president of the show.
This year, the Canadian Cowboys’ Association rodeo final was replaced by the Agribition Pro Rodeo. Whereas in 2015 there were five nights of rodeo, this year there were four nights of rodeo and a night of jousting. Agribition’s CEO, Chris Lane, said it was even bigger this year.
“Already I can tell you that we’ve surpassed last year’s total for ticketed sales for the week – so we know those rodeo numbers and those jousting numbers are strong, which is a great sign for us.”
Lane pointed out a couple of highlights for the show: they had their first video sale for bison, and a new format for horse sales helped result in a more than $100,000 increase in sales.
Parts of the International Trade Centre were still under construction this year, but Stone said he hadn’t heard anything negative about the parts they were able to use.
“Everybody just keep talking about, you know, we have world-class facilities emerging here.”
Stone said many exhibitors are excited about the possibilities when the construction is finished.
There were a few problems during the show. On Monday, a bull calf got loose and went for a jaunt through rush-hour traffic, and on Thursday a horse had to be put down after being injured during the rodeo.
Lane said he believes everything was handled professionally.
“Ninety-nine-point-eight per cent of the show, over six days, is executed to a tee, and it’s important that when something isn’t that we’re ready for it, and I think we really were ready for it.”
While some have lamented the loss of the horse which had to be euthanized, Lane said the show has mostly been hearing from people who were thankful the show was ready and knew what to do when the injury happened.
This was Lane’s first show as CEO of Agribition. He called it a blur, but said it’s hard to understand being on the front lines of such an event without knowing about all the people who come together to make it happen.
“Nineteen or twenty weeks ago it was the first time I walked into this office and it’s been a huge learning curve, it’s been fast, but it’s because of the people that want to make it succeed that make it such a fun time.”
Both Stone and Lane said they were pleased with how the show went.
Saturday was also the last call for the legendary bar at Agribition found inside Exhibition Stadium, called The Swamp.
It will serve up its final drinks Saturday night. The preferred watering hole for many exhibitors and visitors will be torn down with the stadium – the demolition is required to make room for the new International Trade Centre.
The final cattle show in the stadium will happen Saturday afternoon. The RBC Beef Supreme Challenge begins at 4 p.m.
At 9:30 p.m. the Farewell to the Swamp Cabaret Round 2 takes place. Music from Third Degree Birnz will entertain the crowd.