Attendance at the Canadian Western Agribition (CWA) is down compared to previous years, but organizers said spirit and morale is up.
In 2019, 121,000 attended the week long event.
Chris Lane, CEO of CWA, said the final numbers for this year’s event aren’t in yet, but he is expecting lower numbers because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Proof of vaccination requirements, travel restrictions and not having children coming through on school tours are factors causing the low attendance according to CWA.
Lane said there are still approximately 10,000 people expected to come through the gates.
“The people who are making the effort to be here are coming specifically to do business. We have never had better attendance in our conferences from the Grain Expo and the Indigenous Ag Summit,” said Lane.
International participation is also down this year.
There were 100 producers from 20 different countries at the 2021 event, compared to the 1,000 that usually participated in previous years. Chris Lees, President of CWA, said this has caused an increase in online participation.
“They watch the shows, they watch the sales and they’re participating in it,” Lees said.
Despite the lowered attendance, livestock sales have been very good this year according to Lees.
He said pandemic fallout and the summer drought caused an increase in sales. Livestock is selling for $50,000 to $80,000 or more, putting them on average or above previous years.
Even with the low attendance records, the CWA is calling the event a success because of the positive morale.
“I have never walked through those barns or the trade show were people just stop and talk and say ‘we are glad we’re here and thanks for putting this on and getting it up and running,’” Lees said.
Lane added it’s important for CWA to bring the sense of positivity and community that has filled this week into future Agribitions.
“The first show back after COVID-19 had to start somewhere and I don’t think as an organization we could be happier or prouder of where Agribition has started back up,” Lane added.
Agribition 2022 is scheduled for Nov. 28 to Dec. 3, which is one week later than usual to accommodate Grey Cup 2022 festivities.