A top of the ol' straw fedora is in order for the 14-member committee which annually for close to 20 years has organized the Eastern Ontario Crop Conference, first at Kemptville Campus of the University of Guelph and more recently at North Grenville Municipal Centre.
In particular, Scott Banks and Gilles Quesnel deserve to be singled out for spearheading the amazingly popular conference which, on Valentine's Day, drew some 300 area farmers to the municipal centre for the 2017 edition.
Yes, a lot of groups pull together many successful meetings across Eastern Ontario every year. However, the crop conference is a beast unlike any other. You need a degree in rocket science just to get the program sorted out.
Every year, Banks, Quesnel and the others must predetermine what the most appealing topics are likely to be, assign them one of the four different sized halls at the municipal centre based on estimated popularity, and slot them in so that participants can consecutively attend as many of the repeated sessions as possible. It's giving us a headache just thinking about it!
But they got er done once again, and participants could feel the Valentine's love as they moved from session to rotating session, 32 in all covering everything from grain marketing strategies and herbicide resistant weeds, to disease decisions and cover crop realities.
The crop conference is designed, Quesnel explains, to provide growers and agribusiness personnel with the latest in in-depth crop management information; participants can choose up to eight different sessions from the list presented throughout the day. The event also includes a small trade show featuring ag dealers and financial companies.
"We're pretty much at capacity here," Quesnel says. "It's a great facility but we can't expand."
Perhaps that's part of the appeal and helps make the Eastern Ontario Crop Conference such a hot ticket. Regional farmers know they have to book early or risk not getting in. Even the pampered press can end up out of luck; when The AgriNews representative arrived right after lunch, there were no programs left.
It's another case of the early bird getting the Hershey's Valentine's kiss.