Expo Boeuf organizers “seriously concerned” about the future
In its nineteenth year, the largest exhibition of beef animals in Quebec will face serious new challenges. As government funding dwindles and the cost of presenting such a large event continues to increase, the organizers behind the Expo Boeuf beef festival in Victoriaville are not optimistic about the years to come.
Andre Beaumont, Secretary on the CBDRBQ, (Commission Conjointe des Races Bovines de Quebec) and President of the Beef Show organizing committee, is seriously worried by the fact that government funding is slated to end in March of next year.
"We feel this is an important event to
all serious breeders of quality beef animals," he said, "and we'll meet soon to try to find solutions to this problem.”
Rick Bushey, a Danville area Herford breeder and member of the organizing committee deplores the present situation.
"If you look at the cost of presenting a show of this size and quality; renting a full-sized coliseum and stabling area to accommodate up to 600 cattle, including, in the past, prize money, (there was no prize money this year), the cost can get well into six figures."
The cost, according to Bushey, is related to the times we live in. He explained that labor cost for this type of show requires the removal of the ice surface, re-surfacing with proper materials such as sand and shavings for three days and finally the clean-up and re-icing.
"Few people realize the costs the exhibitor has to deal with either. We 'bed' each animal we bring and that can run to over $200 for a showline of nine or ten animals. Every animal we show requires a registration fee of $35. There's transport to pay and for the exhibitors who come from far away, there's at least three nights in local accommodation. I talked to one motel owner who was booked solid from Thursday to Sunday morning and he insisted there wasn't any accommodation left in town,” Bushey said. “The economic impact to this town and area is appreciated, and many of the folks involved in accommodation and restauration are worried this event might not continue another year."
Several organizers are already preparing brainstorming sessions and are ready to send delegations to the Minister of Agriculture. They are also preparing to meet with UPA and anyone they think might help out. With 140 fewer animals on exhibit than last year and already almost half as many as the first shows nearly twenty years ago, organizers realize this is also, in part, due to fewer beef producers over all.
"This show is still not only a showplace but also a market place where beef producers looking for reproduction candidates for their herd that will provide a candidate or two that fits their pocketbook. “Bushey said. “Historically this has been the event where upgrading is made possible. You don't have to purchase the first place winner. This has been a show where exhibitors bring the best they have and quality animals down the showline has been the custom."
At any rate, the weekend show, even without prize money, was still an excellent example of top quality beef animals from several provinces. Eastern Townships breeders were serious contenders for those sought-after championship ribbons in several breeds. Salers, Herefords, Angus, Shorthorn, Simmental, Charolais, Highland - all turned out for the show. On display were the newest addition to beef production; the Speckle Park breed from England which is now being used with Angus producing the Wagyu beef, a delicacy in top-of-the-line eateries across Canada.
"Oh yes, we'll do everything to keep this show going," Bushey emphasized. "There'll be brainstorming sessions, discussions with government, UPA and whatever organization can help us continue. We hope more sponsors will come forward as well. The consumer wants quality beef at a reasonable price. Raising beef animals which transform feed efficiently into well-marbled, tasty beef is every beef producer’s goal. And if he can either prove this with his top-of-theline animals or achieve his goal with careful purchase of quality animals at a show like this one, then it's easy to see how important this event is."
Amanda Bushey taking top honors proving beef breeders in the Townships are among the best. Competitors from the Maritimes including Prince Edward Island as well as Ontario and across Quebec have consistently turned out just about every year, making this show not only the largest in Quebec but a showplace for examples of some of the best in many breeds of beef cattle.