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Thursday, 08 March 2018 06:34

Swift Current Ag & Ex reflects on success, challenges at annual meeting

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Ag & Ex Event Development Coordinator Lenora Bells presents the Discover the Farm report at the annual meeting, Feb. 28. Ag & Ex Event Development Coordinator Lenora Bells presents the Discover the Farm report at the annual meeting, Feb. 28.

The Swift Current Agricultural and Exhibition Association (Ag & Ex) had a successful year during 2017, despite some financial challenges.

Details were provided at the non-profit organization’s annual meeting, Feb. 28. Board members presented the committee reports and spoke about the various activities hosted during the past year.
“I think we did really well for 2017,” Ag & Ex President Steve Philp said after the meeting. “It was kind of a trying year because with the way the oil patch has gone down and the economy. So sponsorships were down. The weather was for us, which was good as far as Frontier Days concerned.”
Rising costs remained an ongoing challenge, but the organization will continue to be fiscally responsible when decisions are made in relation to various expenses.
“Everybody’s expenses go up and unfortunately it’s not something that we can always control,” he said. “You’ve got to pay for what you get, and sometimes you got to pay what you’re asked. There’s no negotiating on some of the expenses. It does hurt, but hopefully we can continue and be fiscally responsible as far as what we’re paying for entertainment to come in and some of the other expenses. We got to just keep a handle on it.”
The Ag & Ex will continue to look at ways to generate more revenue. One option is to attract more sponsorship for different events. Another option might be to look at increasing the gate admission for Frontier Days. It has remained unchanged for some time at $5 for adults/students and free for children 10 years and under as a way to make it affordable for families to attend the fair.
“The $5 is great and it brings a lot of people out that couldn’t afford to come when it was $12 or $15 to get through the gate, especially to bring a family,” he noted. “So $5 has probably brought more people in, but it’s maybe something we’ll have to look at. ... It’s never been floated at a board level. So I could be talking out of turn by even mentioning that, but it’s maybe something that we have to look at, as much as I hate to.”
Finance Chair Stan Aikens presented the finance report during the meeting. He described 2017 as a challenging year for the association, although its financial position remained solid.
“We had many areas where we saw increased costs for services and entertainment et cetera, which affected our ability to just break even on putting on several events,” he said. “We did however managed to show a small excess of revenue of $10,000 for 2017. Our working capital and cash positions remain strong and the association continues to only carry minimal liabilities of $8,000 and we have no long-term debt.”
He added that they will have to continue to be vigilant to control expenses in relation to entertainment, security, prize money, staffing and facility costs.
“Sponsorships have also been declining in recent years,” he said. “There continues to be pressure to maintain our present levels, as many companies are experiencing some slowdowns and an ever increasing demand for support from the communities they do business in.”
The overall net revenues from events were down about $22,000 to $150,000. Income from gate ticket sales and concert tickets were down in 2017, but commission from the midway at the fair and other income was up to over $106,000. The Ag & Ex received over $87,000 in financial support from government and grants from the Saskatchewan Association of Agricultural Societies and Exhibitions.
“We also again had good revenue from booth space rentals at the spring trade show plus commercial exhibits space rented during the fair that amounted to $65,000,” he said. “Sponsorship revenues were however down over $25,000 this past year to just over $72,000.”
Food sales revenues were also down by $24,000 to $58,000. Most of the food sales were from the Doc's Town tea room, but also included the food booths at Frontier Days. The decline in food revenue was mainly due to the closure of a food booth at Frontier Days. Revenue from liquor sales at events was down $10,000 to $97,000.
“Our participation in bringing the CCA Finals rodeo to Swift Current was again challenging financially,” he said. “However, we did see improved profit to $25,000 this past year after contract renegotiations. While this is a profit, it barely accounts for the many staff and volunteer hours provided by the association.”
Aikens also presented details about the 2018 budget at the meeting. Total income is expected to increase, including an increase of over $35,000 from admissions.
“We have some new programs and some good entertainment coming and I think we all believe that those admission figures will likely increase in 2018,” he said.
At the same time the overall expenses are projected to increase with just over $33,000 and as a result there is a projected loss of $5,620 on the 2018 budget.
There were various highlights from the different reports that were presented during the meeting.
The 2017 Step into Spring Home and Leisure Show had over 75 exhibitors and it was well attended with about 4,500 visitors. The 2018 show takes place March 9-11 and the exhibitor space will again be full.
The 6th annual Discover the Farm, which included a poultry and exotic animal sale, attracted over 1,500 people. Educational presentations about safety and agriculture to school groups attracted 600 students from the Chinook School Division.
The 79th annual Frontier Days attracted about 20,000 visitors to the fair. The event provided quality entertainment with a variety of free shows, commercial exhibits, rodeo, grandstand music performances, events for heavy and light horse, cattle and 4-H livestock.
The Doc's Town heritage village offered various programs during the summer that were well attended. Renovation work at two buildings started in the fall and will be completed in 2018. The McLatchie house will receive new entrance steps and the Leinan train station will get a new foundation.
The Ranchman’s Ridin' and Recitin' took place in the fall. There was a cattle pen show, ranch rodeo, as well as ranch horse, heavy horse and stock dog events. The Junior Stockman's Show was a new addition to the event. It was attended by about 60 youth from Alberta and Saskatchewan and around 75 head of cattle were on display.
The Ag & Ex partnered with the Canadian Cowboy Association and the City of Swift Current to host the CCA Finals rodeo in October 2017. The event attracted over 15,000 visitors to the city.

Read 506 times Last modified on Thursday, 08 March 2018 06:54
Matthew Liebenberg