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Lethbridge's Exhibition Park welcomes back first unrestricted trade show since 2020

The Thanks for Farming Tour trade show at Exhibition Park in Lethbridge attracted local farmers and agricultural industry insiders on its first day. The Thanks for Farming Tour trade show at Exhibition Park in Lethbridge attracted local farmers and agricultural industry insiders on its first day.

It's been nearly a year-and-a-half since any events were held without restrictions at Exhibition Park but that all changed this week.

The 'Thanks For Farming Tour' kicked off Wednesday morning and farmers and exhibitors alike were excited to be back.

Jeremy Matuszewski, one of the tour's organizers, is glad to be back in action.

"This is what so many of these companies, including ours, do," explained Matuszewski. "We go to trade shows, we talk to people. That's how we connect and really, this event, we designed it in a way that we can do that and add value to the farmers. It's been really, really cool."

The tour travelled last year but things weren't quite what they wanted as they had to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

"We had to wear masks, we had to wear cap shields, face protection, temperature screenings, but all that stuff's gone so it's just been really cool to get out here and see farmers again and see people," said Matuszewski.

The tour includes guest speakers, exhibit booths and heavy machinery.

Joel Smit works for Manulift, a Canadian lift equipment company, and says it's a relief to be back on the road.

"This is a great, great way to show how our machines are different from the ones they've seen in the market," Smit told CTV News. "We're just really appreciative to have the opportunity to be back in front of people, in person again."

It's not just the exhibitors that are glad to be back though, so are the farmers.

David Reinhardt, owner and operator of Hunt Legacy Farms, was looking forward to getting out and hearing about all the new innovations that have popped up in the last year and half.

"Being able to get out and talk with fellow people in your industry and see how they're doing and what they're doing this year and the kind of procedures and ideas that they're incorporating into their organization."

Another way to hear about what's new and growing in the agriculture industry is to sit in on one of the many guest speaker panels the tour provides. They cover topics ranging from why to cover your crops to succession planning.

One of the speakers is Chris Beaudry who talks about mental health and its effect on farmers, especially following the pandemic.

Beaudry is a farmer by trade and has faced his share of obstacles in the past when it comes to mental health. In 2010, he faced a $700,000 hit to his crops that left him feeling suicidal.

Beaudry was also an assistant coach for the Humboldt Broncos hockey team in 2018 at the time of the tragic bus crash that killed 16 people and injured 13 others. He's now using those experiences to share what he's learned about mental health by speaking at events across the country.

"I actually enjoy this more than farming now," said Beaudry. "To be able to relate with different people, to share my story and then to hear their stories after and find some common ground, and also to find a little bit of healing in each others stories, there's nothing better."

The 'Thanks For Farming Tour' will continue Thursday and organizers are welcoming everyone in Lethbridge and the surrounding area to come down and see what they're all about.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

After Lethbridge, the tour will be heading to Swift Current, Sask.before finishing up in Brandon, Man. Top Stories

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