Last week marked the return of Canadian Western Agribition following a one-year break due to COVID.

CEO Chris Lane says while they don't have solid numbers yet, attendance was down due to COVID requirements and travel restrictions.

"A factor for sure. COVID has caused anybody in the event, hospitality or tourism business, in particular, to sort of rethink their plans and, and how you measure success. So it's hard to really know the exact effect. There's lots going on in the agriculture community that also would have an effect. Agribition is, you know, dependent on the weather, drought and prices in agriculture, as it is on any other thing. So, you know, I think COVID might have had a downward effect on the attendance, in terms of school kids, for example. You know, 10,000 school kids in Regina couldn't come to the show this year, like they normally do at their schools and field trips. So those numbers will show up eventually. But, you know, overall, I think in the people who did come, the people who came to the doors were really intentional and deliberate and excited about it. We're not a small show, even in a year, if attendance is a little bit lower, there's still tens of thousands of people that came to do business and have a good time. And I think that's exactly what we saw coming through the gate."

On average, Canadian Western Agribition normally sees about 120,000 people come through the gates over the six days.

He says despite what will be a lower attendance, the show was still a success.

"There was an overwhelming sense of positivity around the show and everybody who came. You can see just on the comments that people were making, as they packed up and headed home, what a great time they had. And, honestly, what a good show it was. I think that's really a testament to the exhibitors, to the ag community and all of our partners who came together and said, you know, this is an important show. It's an important gathering in the agriculture community, we need to do our business, we need to see our peers. That's what happened for six days, and we couldn't be happier or prouder."

While the overall attendance at the show was lower, so was the number of International visitors. This year's event saw 100 international guests from 20 different countries, compared to previous years when numbers ranged from 700 to 1000 visitors.

He adds that those visitors were pre-qualified and vetted buyers and were interested in doing business here. 

"We had extremely high averages in our sales, and we sold genetics all around the world, as we normally do. So the business of purebred beef cattle genetics, transcends, I think, any obstacles around international travel for COVID."

As far as sale highlights, Lane says, the quality of the cattle that go through the auction ring and exhibition are top quality and command those prices.

"We had individual animals go for 50, 60, 70 and even one over $80,000. So those are significant numbers in the purebred world. We had a couple of special programs. Our president Chris Lee's actually had a donation heifer which raised over $70,000 for STARS and the cancer clinic. So people are in a generous mood, a giving mood. I think the prices on the commercial side of things, and the genetic side of things really show the value of this industry around the world."

Lane notes that work on the 2022 show is already underway, with next year's event scheduled for November 28 to December 3.

Follow the link here to find all the results for the 2021 edition of Canadian Western Agribition.

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