Stew Slater email@example.com
Stratford-based agent for The Co-operators Insurance, Peter Maranger, has known for almost exactly one year where he would be on Feb. 5-6, 2014. That decision was made in his mind when he walked through the doors of the Stratford Rotary Complex and experienced last year’s first-ever Canadian Dairy XPO unfold before him.
“Last year was so successful, we felt we just had to get involved,” Maranger said early in this year’s XPO opening day, Wednesday, Feb. 5.
Maranger and other Co-operators staff were volunteering at the entrance, sporting Canadian Dairy XPO t-shrits, offering assistance and handing out maps. The backs of those t-shirts were filled with logos of the event’s numerous sponsors — including, for the first time, The Co-operators.
A year ago, the news out of opening day was that, without any shadow of a doubt, it was definitely all worth the risks taken by ROI Event Management — under the leadership of Jordon Underhill — to bring a World Dairy Expo-styled event to Canada.
Exhibitors were unanimously thrilled with the exposure, the “Cow Coliseum” — in the form of a temporary “cover-all” style structure connected directly to the Complex — was a huge highlight, and shuttle buses were hastily hired to bring visitors from the far-flung parking spots that XPO visitors were forced to utilize as the day wore on.
This year, Underhill promised bigger and better, with both of the Rotary Complex’s ice surfaces as well as a labyrinth of lobby, meeting room and spectator areas, added to the trade show display space. And, in general (unlike last year, when the event’s first-time status still left some doubt), industry insiders were confident that ROI would deliver.
On Feb. 5, despite driving snow that cancelled school buses in at least some parts of the Stratford area, the thousands of opening day visitors returned.
Among them were a group of about 35 dairy producers from New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland. The group had been on a tour of three nearby dairy farms on Feb. 4, and planned to spend the next two days at the XPO.
“Time away from home!” was the first reason given by central Newfoundland’s Olive Greening, smiling at her husband Jeff when asked why they joined the tour. She quickly added, however, that the couple — who milk 225 cows in a freestall set-up under the herd name Sunrise Dairy — are also planning to build a new heifer barn, and wanted to get some ideas about what works and what doesn’t.
Maranger was among those who weren’t surprised at the XPO’s sophomore success. He said the marketing opportunities of deciding to become an event sponsor are one thing but, as a well-known Stratford-and-area booster who regularly throws his support behind community causes, he also wants The Co-operators to get involved in things that are “good for Perth County.”
And the Dairy XPO, which has now cemented its status as the second largest dairy-focused exposition in North America (after the aforementioned World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin), is definitely good for Perth County, he stressed.