Organizers are ready to throw open the gates at the 51st Canadian Western Agribition, set to take over the REAL District in Regina this week.
Events kick off on Monday, running through to Dec. 3, and a packed schedule is on deck to wow attendees.
Crews have been hard at work all week, moving in the second football fans headed home from the Gray Cup Festival celebrations last weekend, working to switch out green banners for dirt floors and barn stalls.
“Excited is an understatement,” said CEO Shaun Kindopp, in an interview last Wednesday. “The feeling here is fantastic, leading up to the show.“
The optimism is refreshingly positive, after the show posted an operational loss in 2021, which marked both Agribition’s 50th anniversary show and first return to events since 2019 after a hiatus during COVID-19 restrictions.
Attendance last year did reflect a dip, capping out at just over 85,000 guests — shy of the exhibition’s usual average of 121,000 — but organizers still felt the turnout was a winning success.
“With the pandemic, people couldn’t travel or people were just taking care of themselves and being safe, so 85,000 is something we’re definitely still proud of,” Kindopp said.
He anticipates that this year will only be better, with hopes running high. Entry numbers are “trending pre-pandemic” across the board, including vendors for the trade show, livestock entrants and international guests.
“We are looking forward to getting back into the six-figure mark,” Kindopp said.
Agribition remains a vital place for livestock breeders, international investors and industry experts to connect, and Kindopp is hoping to see plenty of that going on once again.
He’s also hoping to see folks stop by for the entertainment aspect of the show and of that, there’s plenty, he said.
All of the favorites are back on the schedule, beginning with the Burning of the Brand ceremony to kick things off Monday followed by a pancake breakfast.
Filling the next six days is a slew of agricultural pickings: food, shopping, livestock shows, educational activities and intriguing competitions involving cattle dogs, heavyweight horse pulling, mounted shooting, and more.
The grounds house more than 2,000 animals throughout the course of the week, including cattle, horses, sheep, alpacas and, this year, bison.
Stars of the wildly popular television show Yellowstone Ian Bohen and Denim Richards — who play characters Ryan and Colby Mayfeild respectively — will be meeting and greeting fans on Thursday.
The final weekend will offer some unmatched action, with national top-10 competitors taking the shoots at the Maple Leaf Finals Rodeo from Wednesday to Saturday at the Brandt Centre, and with the return of the Party on the Dirt cabaret on Friday and Saturday.
The after-party has expanded to include a second night, due to “unbelievable” popularity, said Kindopp.
General gate admission is free on Monday, and rodeo admission is free on opening night courtesy of sponsors. A Shuttle service will run all week, with pickups from Northgate Mall, Victoria Square Mall and Southland Mall.
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Kindopp said as usual Agribition is set to be a place with “something for everyone.”
“It really is a one-stop shop, whether you’re going on a date night or bringing the family and kids out,” Kindopp said.
“If you don’t come from a livestock, farming or ranching background, there’s still something for you at the exhibition, and we want to welcome people to town, to the grounds. We know you’ll have a blast.”
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