The future of agricultural shows in Australia is bright, based on the key messages that resonated with the crowd of almost 300 delegates at the inaugural Agricultural Shows of Australia conference.
Delegates from every state and territory of Australia, and several from New Zealand, made their way to the Gold Coast for the conference.
ASA chairman Dr Rob Wilson said the event, which was hosted by the Queensland Ag Shows Next Generation Committee, highlighted the ongoing importance of shows and the thirst for knowledge and innovation among the show community.
"With more than 580 agricultural shows and 50,000 volunteers across the country the movement is worth $965 million annually to the Australian economy," he said.
Topics of discussion included agricultural show management and governance, marketing, risk mitigation, community engagement, innovation, technology, financial management and next generational mentoring.
Keynote speaker, International Association of Fairs and Expositions president and CEO Marla Calico said agricultural shows across the world always have and always will play an important role in advocating for the agriculture sector and educating the public about food and fibre production.
"It is this passionate belief in what we do, and why we do it that is driving the next generation of volunteers and leaders who are charged with taking the agricultural show movement into the future, to bring together the calibre of speakers we have heard from at this conference and I have been privileged to be part of it," she said.
There is no doubt that the agriculture sector and food and fibre production industries are the lifeblood of agricultural shows are still recovering from mother nature's big three punches of drought, floods and fires and human nature's follow up hits of animal welfare, activism and changing social perceptions around food and farming.
However, it is clearly evident from the many successful case studies discussed that highlighted the underlying well of resilience and constant drive for innovation that Australia brings to both its agriculture industry and events sector, that in spite of the many challenges facing the agricultural shows they remain even more important now, than ever.
With the ongoing support of government though new infrastructure and other grant programs, the public through targeted and responsive communication and marketing strategies and proactively handing the baton to a new generation of volunteers, agriculture shows will continue to take home the blue ribbon.