All that’s left now is the cleanup after another successful year for the Canadian Western Agribition – but the 46th year is going to look a bit different.
Stewart Stone, president of the show, called this year “tremendous”. They don’t have solid numbers yet, but anecdotally, Stone said there was a noticeable increase in both their first-time attendees and people coming to the show from the city.
“And that’s what we’re trying to do, is bring agriculture to the city, and the city to agriculture.”
There were several positives for the show this year. Early in the week, there was a significant increase in ridership of the bus program. Cattle lots sold, as well as sales averages were both up 10 per cent, which Stone called “impressive”. There was also a 25 per cent increase in active buyer registration.
The trade show was the biggest ever, which Stone said is reflective of the new programming they’ve put in, like the food pavilion and jousting show.
Next year’s show is going to look a bit different though. On Saturday, the show announced that the Canadian Cowboys’ Association rodeo final, which is leaving, would be replaced by the new Agribition Pro Rodeo.
The 16 best athletes, men and women, in the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association will compete in seven events for purses and prizes worth $100,000. The change was described as the difference between a semi-professional and professional rodeo.
Both sides of the deal said they’re excited about it.
“Agribition is always about bringing the best. And this is going to be 16 of the best cowboys this group can put on the field,” said Marty Seymour, CEO of the Canadian Western Agribition.
The event at the 2016 show will be the kickoff to the 2017 pro rodeo series.
Agribition next year will also feel different, as construction on the new International Trade Centre begins soon after this year’s show.
The $37-million building will replace 13 buildings at Evraz Place. Construction will take 18 months, so it won’t be finished for the 2016 show. Seymour explained the structure of the building is expected to be up by then. He said they’re committed to having as little impact on the programming as possible.
“There’s going to be some inconveniences, you know we’re doing construction like everywhere else. But we’re still optimistic that we can still deliver the best beef show in the country, and have the biggest trade show we’ve ever had as part of this whole initiative.”
He doesn’t think the construction will have an impact on their numbers next year.