Agrofest 2011 Promises To Be Bigger And Better

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The National Agricultural Exhibition, more popularly known as Agrofest, is gearing up to be even bigger and better for 2011.

The seven-year-old exhibition will run from Friday, February 25, to Sunday, February 27, 2011 in Queen’s Park, Bridgetown. Agrofest is coordinated and hosted by the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS).

Coordinator, Thedore Fraser, revealed that registration for the event was going very well and the BAS was on target to reach over 250 exhibits.??

"Currently, approximately 125 registrations have been filled.?? As a result, we have been forced to close off the sections for food vendors and persons with children’s toys.?? Therefore, we are encouraging exhibitors who would like to take part to come in as soon as possible and register to secure your booth space."??

The inaugural event held in January 2005 and the subsequent Exhibition in February 2006 attracted over 30,000 patrons, while in 2010, a record-breaking 55,000 persons visited Queen’s Park.??

"In 2011, thousands more are expected due to the positive reviews by patrons, exhibitors and sponsors attending and participating in the event over the past six years.?? The event is in the same league as mass events in this country, with Crop Over being probably the only event that is able to have more mass appeal.?? Agrofest is clearly now an established product in the eyes of local, regional and international patrons who are captivated by the event’s uniqueness and its attractiveness to local audiences," Mr. Fraser opined.??

The theme for Agrofest 2011 is "Achieving Healthy Lifestyles through Agriculture" and the BAS will be working with the National Chronic Non-Communicable Disease Commission to bring awareness of the importance of agriculture to healthy living.

"We recognise and would want to highlight the linkages that exist between nutrition and many of the chronic non-communicable diseases and as such, we will use this event to educate the large and captive audience that it attracts," the Coordinator pointed out.

Mr. Fraser added that the Agrofest team would be embarking on an educational drive prior to the opening of the Exhibition, to sensitise Barbadians about the health benefits of local agricultural produce, particularly their role in the control, prevention and reduction of chronic non-communicable diseases.

He noted that this drive, which will be disseminated through the various media outlets, will focus on the use of locally grown produce and explore new and creative methods of fully exploiting many of the island’s indigenous crops.

The Agrofest coordinating committee has also partnered with the National Chronic Non-Communicable Disease Commission to develop a number of special programmes and initiatives which will be undertaken leading up to and during the exhibition.

Among them will be the official designation of Agrofest 2011 as a non-smoking exhibition.?? As a result, the sale and, or promotion of cigarettes and other forms of tobacco will be prohibited. Additionally, members of the public will not be permitted to smoke inside of the park, as it is deemed a "public area".??

A special seminar will be coordinated for all food vendors and exhibitors participating in Agrofest 2011.?? Its main objective will be to introduce and remind the vendors in some cases, of the healthy alternatives to preparing meals.

In this regard, a special competition for food vendors will be held at the Exhibition. Participants will be judged on their use of healthy, local ingredients and/or the methods used to prepare their dishes.

The youth are also included in the committee’s efforts to educate Barbadians about the importance of healthy lifestyles and eating habits, through competitions for both primary and secondary schools.?? The final products of the participating schools will be on display at the exhibition.

Mr. Fraser pointed out that several of the popular shows and competitions from previous years will again form part of Agrofest 2011.

"Next year, we will have our other competition such as the popular livestock shows, the fruit and vegetable competition, as well as the kitchen garden competition, which is becoming a firm favourite among members of the public who have small gardens and want to show them off. We will also have the primary schools’ Spelling ???B’ competition, which has already begun, with the finals taking place at Agrofest 2011."??

According to the Coordinator, there will also be a special treat for members of the public who traditionally can only attend the Exhibition on Sunday and are often disappointed that they have missed the livestock shows.??

He said for the first time ever, the ???Goat Show’ will be hosted on Sunday- February 27, 2011. Additionally, Mr. Fraser indicated that farmers entering next year’s competition will benefit from an increase in the number of categories they can enter their goats, which he believes will result in a better competition.??

The Agrofest Coordinator said planning for the show was still ongoing and as such, patrons can look forward to other announcements in the coming weeks.

"Several more surprises and treats are in store for patrons visiting Agrofest in 2011, but these will be disclosed at a later date," Mr. Fraser concluded.

Further information on Agrofest may be obtained by contacting the Barbados Agricultural Society, "The Grotto", Beckles Road, St. Michael, at telephone numbers 435-8098, 436-6683/84 or fax number 435-0651.

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