Commentary

The Future of Farm Shows?

September 25, 2020 | Paul Bootsma

The Future of Farm Shows?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most farm shows have been cancelled in 2020 and there is still uncertainty about the 2021 shows. Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show (COFS) went online. Last week, we got to see how the show fared in a new “venue.” Many are asking if this platform will be the way of the future.

Other than the actual physical presence, the 2020 Canada’s Digital Farm Show had most components of a successful show: lots of information, new technology, and opportunities to connect with others.

CFFO was pleased to participate in this new format this year. The platform was user-friendly. Visitors were able to easily connect with exhibitors either through a chat bar or by setting up a video meeting.

The COFS is considered the show where farmers do business, so the major question for participants has been, how well will prospective buyers turn to this type of buying opportunity? Could industry shows move towards the digital format permanently? And so, the debate begins.

Some say it’s the way of the future. Some exhibitors felt that the advantage for farmers was an opportunity to discuss information on new equipment before physically going out to kick the tires. Others say they need to see and touch first.

My guess is that the digital show will become part of our life. Imagine one show to cover all of Canada. It’s possible to showcase everything at one digital location. Last week, anyone in the world could visit the Outdoor Farm Show. Why wouldn’t we want to open our farm shows to all ag markets, not only to sell product, but to also gain information from other regions of the world? We know it can be done.

Glacier FarmMedia, the owners of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, also hosted Western Canada’s Ag in Motion Show digitally in July. An impact summary from this show notes there were attendees from all over Canada, as well as from other several countries. This was a chance to showcase Canada to the rest of the world.

There is still opportunity to view the COFS show online, and organizers hope that farmers will continue to view this year’s show on their phones, possibly during those times waiting for the grain buggy to be filled or in line at the elevators or maybe while the equipment is in autopilot mode.

Here’s looking to the future, digitally. 


Paul Bootsma is Field Services Manager for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKXS Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and CHLP Listowel.