Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, held near Woodstock in southern Ontario, puts emphasis on practical demonstrations
With over 700 exhibitors in a 50 acre outdoor park, Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show — held near Woodstock, Ont., on September 11, 12 and 13 this year — can certainly rival its western cousin, Canada’s Farm Progress Show, in scale. And while the Ontario show certainly hasn’t been around as long as the classic Regina event, this year marked its 19th birthday.
“It started as a dream back in 1993,” says Doug Wagner, the show’s president. “In 1997, an opportunity presented itself for us to move the show here to the Woodstock research station, which is part of the University of Guelph. We lease about 150 acres from the research station, then we have another 100 acres, plus or minus, we lease from neighbours for parking and demonstrations.”
That large land base provides room for the show to offer visitors a chance to see a variety of infield equipment demonstrations. This year, the event focused on manure spreading and ploughing. “Each year we select one or two larger demonstrations,” explains Wagner. And there were also a variety of smaller demos, such as animal handling techniques. That combination makes this event particularly appealing to mixed farmers.
Back to the plough
But why focus on ploughing demonstrations? That implement is more common in the East than the West, but many farmers have turned away from it, even there. According to Pat Lynch, an agronomist who organized the demos for the show, it wasn’t necessarily to promote the practice. “There are several new models on display [on the show grounds], so we’re just showing what the different models are capable of,” he says. That not only helps anyone interested in buying a plough make an informed decision, it also helps producers decide if they even want to adopt the practice.”
And while ploughs may seem pretty foreign to most Western growers, most of the equipment on display at the outdoor show wasn’t. “A lot of the equipment is the same between East and West,” notes Wagner. And the show makes an effort to scout out the most interesting new technologies to feature among the static displays on the grounds or as part of the demonstrations. “The show is getting a reputation for bringing innovation to the show and presenting it effectively,” he continues. “If we think something is of interest to Ontario farmers, we’ll try and get it here.”
And because of the increasing standardization of technologies, innovative machinery of almost any type generates interest from people from all across the country. But the chance to see some of it working may be the show’s greatest draw. “I think its because the show is demonstration centered,” Wagner adds. “That’s why a lot of people from all over Canada come to the show.”
Next year’s 20th anniversary show is scheduled for September 10, 11 and 12. †