Record attendance marks 10-year anniversary of the Canadian Dairy XPO in Stratford

The 2024 Canadian Dairy XPO celebrated its milestone 10-year anniversary this year at the Burnside Agriplex in Stratford, drawing a record-breaking total attendance of 17,178 over the two-day event.

Day two saw nearly 8,000 attendees, also setting a new record and marking a slight increase from the previous year's turnout.

The dairy expo attracted exhibitors from over 30 countries showcasing the latest innovations and technologies in the dairy industry. The inaugural Canadian Business Dairy Summit, held at the Tom Patterson Theatre, was a significant addition to this year's event.

The summit, which featured business-focused speakers and topics, is intended to grow to 500 attendees over the next three years. It provides invaluable insights and networking opportunities for industry professionals.

“Basically the dairy summit is a business-training day for dairy farmers,” said Canadian Dairy XPO owner Jordon Underhill. “Most dairy farmers have extensive animal-science training, but not business training. As we see this massive consolidation in the industry, dairy operations are getting bigger so they require business training like all the rest of us who are running businesses.

“Being the first year, I was quite happy to have about 112 people there. The plan is to grow that over the next thee to five years up to about 500 people.”

One of the highlights of the dairy expo was the popular Calves for a Cause auction, which raised $60,000 last year for the London Children's Hospital. With more consignments in the auction this year, organizers were on track to exceed the previous fundraising record.

“This year, we actually had more consignment than we could handle, which goes to show how supportive the dairy community is,” said Underhill. “Essentially, dairy farmers put up either frozen or live genetics in the auction, and then between 20 per cent and 100 per cent of that item is donated to the London Children's Hospital.”

Cheese Fest, another crowd-pleaser, saw over 1,000 Stratford residents invited via direct mail. Underhill said this initiative is meant to bring the city's residents closer to the agricultural community.

“We actually sent out around 1,000 mail invites to residents in Stratford this year for our free Cheese Fest,” said Underhill. “We wanted to invite Stratford residents to help connect them with agriculture. We had a lot of redeemed mail pieces come in. So that was really nice to see not only residents in Stratford supporting, but also consumers supporting what farmers are doing.”

Amanda Modaragamage, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Stratford Times