November 2018
By David Peters, President of ASC of NSW

I was lucky enough to attend the 28th RASC conference in Edmonton on behalf of the ASC of NSW. As with all conferences the networking opportunities both during and between sessions is equally as beneficial as the actual conference. When anyone from the ASC attends such a conference, we represent not only NSW and Australia but also Shows and the promotion of Australian Agriculture. Every break was filled with shared Show experiences from across the commonwealth.

Quickly it became clear that we all share common problems, mainly; retaining volunteers; maintaining our links to the community; and providing an event that fulfils our role to educate the general public on the link between agriculture and food.

This conference we were able to sponsor four next generation delegates plus a fifth via a donated sponsorship. Attending were Stef Fowler, Bec Cope, Lucy Collingridge and Emily Ryan. Zac Tomlinson was the fifth donated sponsorship. The next gen delegates selected are the Show executives of tomorrow. Some are doing it today. Their involvement in conferences like the RASC gives them knowledge, resources and contacts they will use throughout their Show careers and providing motivation to remain involved.

CEOs and Next Gen.

I attended the CEOs’ sessions. The basis of the presentation was management both practical and theoretical. Initially from the results of the responses to a survey given to all Show CEOs in the RASC family. These sessions were as much about self-management as they were about Show management. Topics covered were:
• Our leadership challenges and how we face them
• Leaders Inspire
• Leading in the Future
• In the business.

We also heard from the Show/Fair network from around the world on their current circumstances. One thing that became clear was that no matter where in the world or what ever the type of event provided, we are very similar in our approaches and problems. For instance everybody struggles to retain volunteers and engaging and keeping good people on Boards.
We then merged with the Next Gen group where we shared, in small groups, what we had learned from the sessions to date

The Main Conference

The Main Conference sessions were practical and informative with topics ranging from the experiences of Agricultural Businesses to Regional Planning and Balancing Urban Landuse and Agriculture.

We heard how next generation thinking is influencing the success of Agricultural businesses and how we are all facing the challenge of educating the general public on the origins of food and fibre. Almost every country has a horror story based on the misconceptions of children and adults on the source of milk and dairy products.

We heard at length about the in-depth planning that went into the security of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and how security at our events has become a huge problem.

We also heard how McDonalds is influencing the cattle industry through their Beef Sustainability program and how large Shows and fairs manage their operations, Gate to Garbage, Crowds to Cows.
Thanks to a game app. circulated “Farmers 2050” we learned how by 2050 agricultural output will have to increase by 60% on todays figures to feed the estimated world population of 9 billion.

Conclusion

In all a very enlightening and often practical conference that highlighted for me how the challenges faced by Shows and Fairs around the world are more similar than they are different.