After going virtual for the past two years, Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week – the first agricultural trade show and conference of the season – returned to an in-person format at the Elmwood Community Centre, to the delight of both organizers and attendees.
The hall was filled the first two days of the event – Beef Day and Dairy Day. The parking lot was full-to-overflowing, with vehicles on both sides of the road for quite a distance.
“People are glad to be here with friends … the energy is palpable,” said organizer Lorie Smith of Grey Agricultural Services, in a brief interview on the second day of Farmers’ Week.
She said it was too soon to have any numbers. However, the room with every seat taken and people standing at the back, spoke for itself.
The event traditionally attracts attendees from throughout Grey and Bruce counties, as well as from the northern parts of Huron, Perth and Wellington. However, in recent years, as the conference and trade show has become better known, people have attended from much further afield including from outside the province.
Contributing to the excellent attendance for Farmers’ Week 2023 was the full schedule of presentations, panel discussions and question-and-answer sessions, featuring both international experts and top local people, with the opportunity to attend in person, or via computer.
The opening day of the conference featured a presentation by Dr. Jordan Thomas of the University of Missouri, on The ‘Silent Killer’ of Cow-Calf Profitability. It set a high standard for the rest of the conference and trade show, and those in attendance weren’t disappointed.
The popular roast beef dinners, with goat and lamb added on Goat and Sheep days, topped off with pies for dessert, certainly added to the conference for those attending in person.
While Smith had nothing but positive comments about being able to continue the conference during the pandemic in a virtual format, the scent of that delicious roast beef was missed, she said, along with the opportunity to network face-to-face with fellow producers, special guest presenters and agribusiness specialists.
The decision to “put on the best possible virtual conference” for two straight years, with speakers from around the globe, gave Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week a new national and even international profile.
Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week 2023 incorporated some of the positive elements of the virtual conferences – livestreaming (which had started prior to COVID-19) and post-conference recordings to allow producers to catch up on presentations they may have missed, or to take a second look at information they found especially useful. In addition, there were 21 “on-demand” presentations that were pre-recorded and available to those attending in-person and livestreamers.