Looking back on this year’s Agritechnica, I can’t help but think how extraordinary it was to travel so far from home and run into so many people I knew or were from Canada. Despite being travelling half way around the world, it seemed I was still among friends and familiar faces.
As I walked through the doorway into a restaurant on the show grounds, I bumped into Dave, an engineer friend from Canada. It seems machinery shows are the only place I ever see him. But here’s what made our random meeting that day so improbable. If you take the total number of visitors recorded at Agritechnica for the week and divide that by seven, the number of days the gates are open, it means in a mammoth crowd of a little over 64,000 on site that day we managed to cross paths.
Of course the Press Centre on the grounds, a facility made available to members of the international press by the show’s organizers, was full of familiar faces. I can’t even remember how many acquaintances from North American media outlets I ran into there.
Then there was the hotel lobby. There were even more familiar faces there.
But really, the “old-home week” feel of this trip started right off the bat. At Regina airport I met Rob O’Connor, the Western Canada Farm Progress Show’s manager. He was booked on the same flights to Germany I was. During the stopover in Toronto, we had a chance to sit in an airport diner and chat.
Then at an event held at the Saskatchewan pavilion, which housed manufacturers based in that province, I met him again at the reception afterward. As we talked, Cara Von Bürck walked by. Rob introduced us. She was was working at Agritechnica for DLG, the German Agricultural Society, who runs the event.
As it turns out Cara is from Star City, Saskatchewan, and has been working on an agricultural economics degree, attending universities in Europe. Currently, she’s living and studying in Europe, but she came to Hanover for the week to work at the show.
After talking with Cara, I ran into Dave Dietrich, owner of Assiniboia-based Flexxifinger, who consented to do a video interview with me—look for that under the “videos” link on this site. There were many other executives from Canadian manufacturers there as well. Watch for another video interview with Andrew Winkels from Versatile.
And the trip to Agritechnica also gave me the chance to visit with some of the other members of DLG, who I’ve come to know reasonably well over the past five years. I have to thank them for being patient enough to allow me to practice some of my German language skills on them.
But aside from seeing old friends and other people from Canada, there were opportunities that were arguably even more valuable. Being at a show in a distant country provided opportunities to speak with farmers, machinery writers and manufacturing executives from all parts of the world. My friend Malene from DLG introduced me to three very interesting farmers, two from South Africa and one from the former East Germany. Having the chance to talk with them and listen to their views on agriculture was a priceless opportunity.
Finding people at the show who I had something in common with was incredibly easy, even if I didn’t know them before arriving—or if they didn’t come from Canada. The only problem was finding enough time to fit all that interaction into one week.
After coming away from that event feeling so much richer for having experienced such a diversity of experiences and opinions, I happened to read a McLeans magazine article on the rise of Nationalism in countries across the world. The far-right political groups pushing that agenda apparently think they see a benefit to a society that isolates itself, that is intolerant of foreigners or foreign ideas, that wants to hear nothing but the familiar.
The fact apparently intelligent humans would advocate such nonsense makes my head explode.