When Canada's Outdoor Farm Show was cancelled for the second year, it was obvious that a large event with 30,000 people would be very hard to run during the pandemic.
However, as more people were vaccinated and case numbers dropped, the Canada's Outdoor Farm Show team, in conversation with leading industry groups, decided there was still a chance that farmers could come together, albeit in smaller numbers.
As a result, Outdoor Dairy Days and Crop Stop were created, two-day events that run one after the other — Outdoor Dairy Days on Sept. 21 and 22 and Crop Stop on Sept. 23 and 24 — at the Canada's Outdoor Farm Show site, part of Glacier FarmMedia's Discovery Farm.
It turns out that there is enthusiasm for farmers to get together in person.
"On the dairy event, interest especially from the exhibitor base has been pretty outstanding," says Doug Wagner, president of Canada's Outdoor Farm Show. The dairy event has mostly sold out of exhibit spaces, with all indoor spaces booked.
Outdoor exhibitors have large spaces and are being encouraged to make use of that outdoor space for equipment and technical demonstrations.
There are limited indoor spaces, as the aim is to maintain enough space at the show to lower COVID risk. Outdoor Dairy Days is presented in partnership with Progressive Dairy Operators.
Due to COVID-19 contact tracing requirements attendees have to register for both events. Registration links can be found at the Outdoor Farm Show website. In under 24 hours before the show visitors will be sent and have to fill out a COVID-19 screening form, then print that form and bring it to the show or be able to show the form on a mobile device. Those who forget to fill out the form and who have already registered will be able to fill out a paper version at the shows.
Attendance to both shows is limited due to COVID regulations.
On the other side of the farm show site, Crop Stop will focus on the 11 crop demonstration plots by seed and crop input companies, but also include other exhibits and demonstrations. The event is presented in partnership with the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA).
"In the field plots, companies have made huge investments," Wagner said, and a good growing year means plots in great shape.
Attendees will be able to rotate among the plots and also take in crop-focused exhibits. There will also be presentations available from Case IH, which is launching a new tractor at the show; the new Resilient Fields app from the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario; and twice-daily demonstrations from DJI Drones of its cover crop seeding and spraying drone. OSCIA will demonstrate its new soil health research trailer, which contains research and presentation equipment.
"We're making special efforts to keep people further apart," says Wagner. The street widths have been moved from 25 feet to 40 feet to give more room compared to the usual Canada's Outdoor Farm Show spacing. Extra picnic tables have been ordered and protocols are being set up to keep the tables and washrooms sanitized.