Canadian Western Agribition 2017 has gone into the books as the first event to be held in Regina’s new International Trade Centre.
The 150,000-square-foot multi-purpose facility at Evraz Place replaces 14 aging barns and buildings built during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, as well as the 1919 Exhibition Stadium that came to life each year as the main show ring at Agribition.
Planning started more than a decade ago and a 2014 study put forward a good business case for revitalizing the barn area with a multi-purpose facility that could host the annual Agribition and Farm Progress shows along with other trade shows, conventions and large commercial events.
With funding in place from the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan ($22 M), City of Regina ($11M), Regina Hotels Association ($3M) and Canadian Western Agribition ($1M), the staged demolition-construction project got underway in January 2016. Part of the unfinished ITC along with the old stadium, half of the Winter Fair Building and storage buildings were available for Agribition last year.
The completed ITC was officially opened to the world for business on November 6, and as Agribition’s CEO Chris Lane put it, “at last our facilities match the quality and reputation of the show.”
The ITC features three halls with moveable partitioning to accommodate any event. During Agribition, that’s the showcasing and marketing beef cattle.
The centre hall (22,000 sq. ft.) serves as a dedicated show ring, while a hall of the same size on one side holds cattle stalls and the largest hall (46,000 sq. ft.) on the other side houses cattle and horses.
The second-floor mezzanine area overlooking all three halls is home to Agribition’s International Business Centre, where guests have prime seating for the shows and an inviting, comfortable place to do business.
In addition to its international reputation as a top-notch beef cattle show, Agribition is widely known for its spirit of volunteerism and first-class hospitality. In 2016, the cattle show attracted 1,200 registered international guests from 75 countries who doubled their spending over the previous year, contributing to the $2.9 million in livestock sales, the second highest value in decades.
As one who has shown cattle many times through Agribition’s 47 years, Agribition president Bruce Holmquist knows how important the environment is to the large contingency of international buyers as well as exhibitors.
“The biggest advantage for exhibitors is having the conveniences of a modern facility. It is bright, to better display cattle and products, the power supply is intended to be better, and it has a professionally designed ventilation system with air exchange to make sure air quality is the best possible for the livestock,” Holmquist says when asked to list the conveniences appreciated by exhibitors and visitors alike.
As in past years, the Stockman’s Arena, Canada Centre West and Canada Centre East adjoining the ITC were used to house purebred breeds, while the sheep and dairy display moved to the Canada Centre Show and Sale Arena at the front of the building.
The commercial barn remains the home of the Stock Exchange with penning for cattle and bison, The Yards live-cattle exhibit booths, and the upgraded John Deere Sale Ring, which is now the venue for all cattle sales.
The bright corridor across the front of the ITC makes it the centrepiece of the 100-acre Evraz Place by connecting the west-side buildings with the east-side halls and sports arenas. Visitors can now take in the livestock exhibits and carry on through the agricultural trade show areas, consumer marketplace, family ag, Indigenous and food pavilions, and entertainment and hospitality venues without having to set foot outdoors.