2022 marks a new chapter for World Dairy Expo
World Dairy Expo saw some significant modifications to the show’s lineup in 2022. It wasn’t an easy task. As with any changes to a show that’s been around for more than half a century, there’s a lot to consider, especially for one that serves many facets of the dairy industry.
Bill Hageman, board president of World Dairy Expo, explains some of the reasons behind the changes, initial reaction from Expo exhibitors and attendees, and how World Dairy Expo will continue to evolve to meet the needs of its diverse audience.
SF: After a hiatus in 2020 due to COVID and a reopening in 2021, the 2022 World Dairy Expo came back in full force, albeit with a modified schedule. What was some of the reasoning behind the changes?
BH: For World Dairy Expo, we have four main components: our commercial trade show, our dairy cattle show, education, and the other events that are held, which include youth showmanship and judging. We looked at our entire schedule to see how we could adapt it to meet the changing needs of everyone involved.
Our first challenge was our dairy cattle show. During the week, space on the colored shavings (the show ring) is at a premium. We had 2,670 head on the grounds in 2022, and most of our shows start at 7:00 in the morning and end well after 9:00 at night. To give every exhibitor the same experience, we need a five-day window. And that simply can’t change.
At the same time, we have industry exhibitors at our trade show. We had been operating the show for five days, which is very long for an industry trade show. It’s very expensive for exhibitors, especially for smaller companies and organizations. Not only does it take sales staff off the road, but it’s also very expensive in terms of daily expenses.
We felt the time was right to make an adjustment to provide enough time for our dairy cattle show and our trade show. We shortened the trade show to four days, while leaving the dairy cattle show at five days. And the last piece of that was to end the show on a Friday versus a Saturday. In 2022, we started on Sunday and ended on Friday. The one extra piece was that we could take Sunday and focus on youth events. We put our fitting and showing contests, as well as our dairy judging contests, on Sunday. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. It allowed participants to take part in the contests, while being able to not miss a day of school. That's important.
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SF: What has been the feedback so far?
BH: We’ve had limited feedback so far. We will take a much deeper dive after the show, but our commercial exhibitors are pleased. The change we’ve made has been requested for some time now, and we’re adapting. For the dairy cattle exhibitors, nothing has really changed for them.
SF: How have attendees reacted to the change?
BH: Attendees come to World Dairy Expo with a purpose, and they have a good idea of what they want to see. We provide tools, like our mobile app, to help guide them through the show. Condensing the commercial show allows our commercial exhibitors to have more client interactions in a more focused timeframe. The other part of the show, including our educational events, knowledge nook, and virtual farm tours, are seeing excellent attendance. We make sure we have a balanced selection of topics every day. If you attend for one day or two days, you can really fill your schedule with valuable information. Because as we continue to evolve, we will not lose sight of the fact that our attendees time is very important, and also that our exhibitors have a return on their investment.
SF: You draw a lot of visitors and exhibitors from other countries. Last year COVID had a huge impact on those attendees. How is international attendance this year?
BH: Travel restrictions did impact international travel to the show last year. We are pleased that segment is higher this year; although it is not to the levels we were seeing before COVID. We fully expect those numbers to continue to grow in coming years. World Dairy Expo has a worldwide impact on the dairy industry.
There were 1,375 international attendees registered this year that represented 86 countries.
SF: How are commercial exhibitors evaluating World Dairy Expo?
BH: While we do pride ourselves in seeing increased attendance this year, the total number of visitors does not tell the entire story. We also work with exhibitors to evaluate not only the quantity of interactions, but the quality of interactions. What kind of client interactions did they have? Did they have good meetings? Did they have good sales opportunities? Those are important questions that help us ensure our exhibitors get the most out of the show.
But we don’t lose sight that World Dairy Expo is a meeting place, where clients old and new come together. It’s also a place where customers, whether it be retail or wholesale, visit. It’s also a place where companies unveil new and exciting products to the dairy industry. We want to make sure we provide a forum that meets all these expectations.
This year there were 672 participating companies representing 24 countries, 6 Canadian provinces and 44 states.
SF: Are further changes in store for World Dairy Expo?
BH: We will continue to evaluate our offerings to ensure they meet the needs of our diverse audiences. We will look at what worked, and what needs improvement. We will always look at ways to make sure World Dairy Expo remains vibrant and relevant to today’s dairy industry.
World Dairy Expo, by the numbers
- Dairy farmer: 35%
- Agribusiness professional: 38%
- Student: 8%
- Retired: 2%
- Other: 17%
Reason for attending:
- Trade Show: 34%
- Dairy Cattle Show: 30%
- Networking: 18%
- Education Programming: 12%
- Youth contests: 7%