The 55th Annual Grey Bruce Farmer's Week is going virtual.
Looking to the remainder of this year and into 2021, there is great uncertainty as to whether large groups will be allowed to safely gather in our community halls. Everyone’s health and safety are of paramount importance, and therefore, the Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week (GBFW) committee, with the support of their Premier Sponsor FCC, have made the decision to deliver “the best virtual conference possible” in January 2021. GBFW has been there for local producers and beyond for 54 years. It will continue to be there in its 55th year, but with a new look and format. Co-ordinator Lorie Smith comments that, “We are in a sweet-spot to pivot to a virtual conference as a result of live streaming GBFW for the past three years. Our continued partnership with CTRE Productions will ensure the success of this new initiative.” Smith continued, “We will take all of the best features about Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week, box them up, and create an online experience that mimics all the feels of the live event.” Some may ask why this decision was made at this time. In order to co-ordinate this new venture to its fullest potential, the committee decided to choose this path now, rather than it being a rushed Plan B closer to January. GBFW is recognized as one of the most well-organized conferences in Ontario. By pivoting to virtual now, co-ordinators can ensure that that reputation is maintained.
The virtual conference experience will continue to be a 7 day event, plus a bonus Tradeshow Day. The Tradeshow Day will be Tuesday Jan 5th, followed by Beef Day - Jan 6, Dairy Day - Jan 7, Goat Day - Jan 8, Sheep Day - Jan 9, Horse Day - Jan 10, Ecological Day - Jan 11, and lastly, Crops Day on Tuesday Jan 12th. There will be over 60 dynamic speakers and panelists with presentations delivered in real-time and in pre-recorded options. There will be an exciting virtual tradeshow. Audience members will be able to speak directly to the speakers and exhibitors. There will also be an opportunity to mingle and speak to fellow producers. Smith comments that “Interaction and networking are vitally important. Our community is feeling the loss of social activities, so it is important that the virtual conference attempt to re-create these opportunities.” Organizers do recognize that reliable internet is an issue in many areas of Grey Bruce and beyond. They will investigate avenues to better meet the needs of those producers in this situation.
GBFW is a gem of a conference that occurs in Grey Bruce, but in 2021, there is now the opportunity to share this incredible educational platform with the rest of Ontario, Canada and the world. Organizers would appreciate assistance to spread the word about this fantastic event, so tell all of your friends. Smith adds that “The committee is excited to create this conference for our audience, and we look forward to adding more strings to our event planning bow.”
Between now and January, the GBFW Committee hopes that everyone remains safe and healthy! They look forward to seeing familiar names and images, and new ones, during the GBFW21 virtual conference.
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