Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show cancelled, digital event planned

Social distancing would be challenging at such a large event with COVID-19 restrictions

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The largest event in Ontario agriculture will not go ahead in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, which draws tens of thousands of farmers to its Woodstock site, showcases growing crop plots, ride and drives, and live demonstrations of equipment working fields.

The event was scheduled for Sept. 15 to 17.

Why it matters: Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show is a place for farmers to meet, learn, find new ideas and talk to others in the agriculture industry.

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A digital event is being planned and more information will be announced soon.

“We’ve been trying to get a handle on the best and worst case scenario for September,” says Doug Wagner, president of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show (COFS).

People are only allowed to congregate in groups of five now, with no guidance on when that might be changed in Ontario, where COVID-19 cases remain steady, but significant. Wagner said they looked at whether they could move groups of five or 20, if allowed by September, through the show. At any given time during the three days of the show there can be 10,000 people on the site and it was decided managing social distancing at an event of that size would be difficult.

Glacier FarmMedia, owner of the show (and Farmtario), cancelled another outdoor show in Saskatchewan, called Ag In Motion (AIM). It was due to run in late July, but was also cancelled and is being transitioned to a digital event.

A large part of the value of COFS is the networking with exhibitors and other farmers. That will be missed, says Wagner.

“In addition to selling and sales, when people come to the farm show they expect to see people they hope are going to be here. They just know they will strike up pretty good conversations that will lead to other stuff. That’s what we do, when exhibitors are here and farmers are here.”

Less than a day after the show was cancelled, Wagner says it’s “gratifying to see the notes come in”.

More than just the show, many other events has grown up around the time of the show, including organization annual meetings, competitions and awards.

Wagner says he’s hopeful that the site can be used yet as it has been other years by crop companies for demonstrations for farmers and dealers. Many of the companies have planted their plots at the site. Those events will also depend on provincial group size limits in the future.

Local health authorities “have already offered to work with us to create the correct protocols to stay within guidelines set by the province.”

Wagner says the show was starting to hear from exhibitors about a decision on whether the show would go on or not, as it takes several months of planning for the exhibitors, so a decision was made to cancel.

About the author

Editor

John Greig

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig

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