REGINA - The 2023 Canadian Western Agribition got under way Monday morning in familiar fashion in Regina with the traditional burning of the brand.
Premier Scott Moe and longtime agriculture journalist Jim Smalley, who retired following last year’s event, took part in the branding ceremony to kick off the event which runs for five days from Nov. 20-25 on the REAL grounds.
“To be a part of kicking this show off, burning the brand, is an honour for me personally,” said Premier Moe. “This is a real opportunity in a very global way, to put front and centre what we are doing in Saskatchewan agriculture and Canadian agriculture not only from a food production and food security perspective, but the how — how we are producing some of the most ethical and sustainable foods that you can find on earth.”
This marks the 52nd year of Agribition, and this year’s show features many familiar returning features as well as a few new aspects.
Shaun Kindopp, CEO of Agribition, said at the Monday morning media briefing that “everything we are doing is about the guest experience.” One event they were excited about, he said, was the brand new Bull Fighters Only freestyle bullfighting event, happening at Brandt Centre Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“Mark my words, it will be one of the most exciting things that has ever been to Regina,” Kindopp said.
Another highly anticipated event is the Canadian Animal AgTech Awards presented by Deloitte, which will also be held for the first time at this year’s event. A third event also making its debut is the Miss Rodeo Agribition Competition, happening at 8 a.m. Tuesday in the Brandt Centre.
But there will also be familiar aspects including four nights of rodeo as well as live entertainment, and of course livestock sales and competitions.
Kim Hextall, president of Agribition, told reporters the 2023 Agribition expects to attract people from around the world. She said there is a delegation coming from Australia as well as a delegation of 18 people from Mexico.
“There will be people from across the world, and some of them will have been here before, but some also haven’t. They’re not even going to find out what really cold weather is like, which isn’t all bad,” said Hextall, who believes the unusually mild Saskatchewan weather for this time of year might provide a boost to attendance numbers this week.
What she expects those visitors will be looking for are “genetics that they can put into their own programs when they go back home. So a lot of those genetics will be frozen genetics that will be transported around the world.”
Highlights of the first day included the Canadian National 4-H and Youth Judging Competition in the Chevrolet GMC Arena, followed by Youth Showmanship and Team Grooming, and the Beef N' Barley Winners Circle Horse Pull Auction in the same venue. The Alpaca Fleece Show took place in the Canada Centre Arena, while the Canadian National Texas Longhorn Show took place in the John Deere Sale Arena.
One more highlight took place on the second floor of the Viterra International Trade Centre on Monday — that being a news conference to announce WestJet’s new daily service of direct fights between Regina and Minneapolis-St. Paul starting April 28, 2024.
The venue of Agribition was seen as an apt one for this major announcement, as airport officials and community leaders see the U.S. air route as vital to spur on more business and event attraction to the city.
Tuesday will kick off with the Food, Fuel, and Free Trade breakfast presented by CN at 7:00 a.m. with Heather Ryan, CEO of Federated Co-operatives Ltd., as the keynote speaker.
Other events on tap for Tuesday will be the Grain Expo Conference at 9 a.m. in the Queensbury Convention Centre; and the Indigenous Agriculture Summit, also at 9 a.m. in Queensbury Convention Centre. Lightweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight Canadian Horse Pull Finals also will happen at 10 a.m. at Brandt Centre.