Members of the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba spent most of last week in Ottawa to attend the annual Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions Convention (CAFÉ Conference).

The Conference featured workshops, industry tours and a wide variety of information sessions ranging from ticket sales and marketing to understanding your audience and customer service.

“I always look forward to attending this conference,” says Provincial Exhibition Board President Kathy Cleaver. “This event offers opportunities to meet and network with staff and directors of fairs and exhibitions of all sizes. I have attended this conference in past years and have always come away with new energy and ideas to bring back to our board of directors.”

Please listen to more of the interview with Provincial Exhibition President, Kathy Cleaver, and CJRB's Barry Lamb below.

Cleaver was joined by Financial Controller Rhonda Woytkiw, Program and Volunteer Manager Kristen Liang Breemersch and newly appointed General Manager Mark Humphries.

“Having the opportunity to network with others in our profession can certainly lead to fresh new ideas and offers the chance to share experiences," shares Mark Humphries, this being his first trip to the CAFÉ Conference.

'CAFÉ exists to provide member organizations, including the Provincial Exhibition, with a united voice, programs and tools to spur the kind of open collaboration, shared learning and coordinated action that an industry needs to thrive. It currently works with over 700 fairs and exhibitions and countless service providers across the country,' states their media release.

'The Canadian Fair and Exhibition industry sees more than 35,000,000 visitors each year through their 17,000 events and activities, with an estimated economic impact of $2.9 billion on local communities.'

“It should be a productive week for us,” says Cleaver. “The breakout sessions are great resources for new ideas and training and this year we will be attending a workshop to discuss animal handling and welfare. These sessions provide our event managers the opportunity to view entertainers and educational ideas that could be a great fit for our fairs,” she adds.

'Among the topics to be discussed in Ottawa this week include such topics as creative ways to keep the family focused on programming, getting to know your audience, engaging your volunteers, the evolution of experiential marketing, becoming a high performing organization and much more.'

When recognizing the changes in trends and culture, Cleaver notes this sector of the Ag industry is trying to engage more young people, especially after the pandemic has strengthened everyone's ties to their mobile devices, especially young people.

"How do you engage these kids who have spent 2 years on their phones, 2 years watching tiktok, and how do you bring them out?" she asks. "We've always provided real sensory experiences," notes Cleaver. "You see it, feel it, touch it, smell it, and hear it - whereas on their phones they don't have that sensory input.  People researching mental wellness are seeing the kids are really anxious about being separated from their phones."

"How do you deliver information to them in short bites now, so they get it, experiential ways to get your message across to them quick?"

Please listen to more of the interview with Provincial Exhibition President, Kathy Cleaver, and CJRB's Barry Lamb below.

With the Provincial Exhibition coming off hosting a successful AG EX in October, plans and preparations have already begun on the 2023 Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, scheduled for March 27-April 1st at the Keystone Centre.