The Ontario Pork Congress (OPC) continues to grow, adding 20 more exhibitors in 2019.
The congress will bring its usual mix of industry events and public outreach to Stratford June 19 and 20.
The board of directors of the Ontario Pork Congress decided to continue with the event, despite the cancellation of the World Pork Expo in Iowa due to concerns about foreign visitors and the spread of African swine fever.
The Ontario Pork Congress doesn’t attract nearly the number of visitors from around the world as does the World Pork Expo, which makes managing biosecurity easier.
Why it matters: The Ontario Pork Congress plays an important role as the place for the swine production industry to gather.
Kirk McLean is president of the OPC and works in the building sector with Stubbe’s Precast. He says optimism and growth in the sector have fueled multiple years of growth at the OPC.
“I think it’s just the industry as a whole,” he said. “The futures are looking good. There’s definitely some optimism in the industry right now and it is bringing exhibitors out showcasing their wares.”
The 20 more exhibitors means that there are 100,000 sq. feet of show to take in.
McLean says farmers should come to the OPC with a biosecurity plan. They should figure out the biosecurity best practices for their farm before they arrive. Live hogs, in the form of the Baconmaker Classic 4-H show, will only be on site the second day of the show. The live hogs are segregated from the rest of the congress, so anyone who wants to avoid them can do so by not attending on Thursday or not entering the structure that houses the pigs.
The 46th annual OPC is showcasing the Year of the Pig in the Chinese calendar this year. The popular Taste the Best competition will return where invited restaurants in the Stratford area prepare and serve unique recipes involving a certain cut of pork. This year, the chefs have been challenged with using pork hock in their recipes. Taste the Best is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. on the Wednesday of the show.
Other events at the Ontario Pork Congress include:
- The Hog Jog, where runners cover several distances to raise money for a charity, this year, L’Arche Stratford. Almost $500,000 has been raised at Hog Jogs over the years.
- The Pork Quality Competition, where cuts of meat are evaluated and judged.
- The tradition of the Pig Art competition.
- International workers tours and education sessions.
- A free pork barbecue with admission.
- The beer tent where many meetings and conversations are held during the congress.
- The connected Stratford Blues and Ribfest, which encourages consumers to learn about and try pork.
“It’s important to show the consumer where their food comes from too,” says McLean. “It’s not just coming off, mysteriously appearing on shelf, it is a product grown close to home. It’s an important thing to get out there, important for producers, important for the industry and important for the consumer to know that too.”