The 2023 Agricultural Exhibition

Mr. Speaker and honourable colleagues, last week (April 27th – 29th) the Department of Parks held the 2023 Agricultural Exhibition more commonly known as the Ag Show. It has been three (3) years since the last in-person show and trust me when I say – it was not an easy undertaking to revive this sacred event.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that all of us here in this Honourable House today have been involved in family event planning in some shape or form and can appreciate the amount of time and dedication required to properly organise. Sorting out the food, drinks, music, layout, parking, entertainment, bathrooms, the seating because  cousin Ethel can’t sit near Aunt May – planning could take two (2) weeks or more.

Now imagine taking this concept and increasing it to include over ten thousand (10,000) strangers and only twelve (12) weeks preparation time. Realistically, as the Minister with responsibility, I am delighted to say the Department of Parks pulled this tremendous feat off.

Mr. Speaker after multiple consultative sessions with the AG Show Ltd committee who have been managing the Ag Show since 2016 – in late January of this year, full responsibility for the 2023 Ag Show was returned to the Department of Parks. While ideally, the Department would have preferred more time to take over responsibility for this iconic event, they nevertheless accepted the challenge and moved forward expeditiously to meet the constrained timeline.

Mr. Speaker, the Acting Director of Parks at the time – Mr. Remi Subair (whom actually in his substantive role is the Principal Electrical Engineer for the Ministry) – swiftly formed a committee to organise the Ag Show consisting of: Ms. Georgette Caines, Ms. Betty Conyers, Ms. Susan Conyers, Ms. Claire Russell, Ms. Carlita Lodge, Ms. Esther Lopes, Mr. Ronnie Lopes, Ms. Makiesha Smith, Ms. Roseann Michelson, Mr. Steven Antonition, Mr. Derrick Seymour and Mr. Paul Furtado. Together with his team, the Acting Director held numerous meetings and planning sessions with stakeholders.

Mr. Speaker to support even under these financially tumultuous times, the Ministry of Public Works made available $100,000.00 to ensure this time honoured tradition became a reality after several years.

Let me advise fellow members that this event was unbudgeted in the last fiscal year (2022/23) because up until late January 2023, it was the Ministry’s understanding that the previous organisers would continue on in their full capacity.

Nonetheless Mr. Speaker with the limited funding and time (again less than 12 weeks) available, the Acting Director and company were able to secure a multitude of vendors for food and beverage; create safety plans; organise parking; liaise with Schools and our local art industry for traditional competitions; establish  a marketing and promotion strategy; organise staffing; organise the Horse show; and last but certainly not least – finding farmers with pigs…because everyone loves the pigs.

Just to put this into perspective – the average time to organise the previous physical Ag Shows were about ten (10) months. So Mr. Speaker, to say the Acting Director and team were fervently running around to work above and beyond to make sure this event occurs is an understatement to say the least. Credit must be given when due and I am sure the entire House will associate themselves with myself in stating:

“Thank you to all involved in organising and I would especially like to mention the former Acting Director Mr. Remi Subair, Ms. Kelly Sousa, Mr. Roger Parris, Ms. Georgette Caines, Mr. Craig Burt, Ms. Joanne Smith, Guest Judges and the entire Department of Parks staff (including those in the Skills Development Programme) for the hard work, commitment, dedication and sleepless hours you have contributed to put together the 2023 Ag Show.”

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to take the time out to thank the vendors and sponsors for coming out – all of whom contributed in varying degrees to the success of this event. Thank you all.

Mr. Speaker, throughout the three day festivity – over 10,000 tickets were sold for the 2023 Ag Show. This number would have been greater had there not have been the heavy downpour of rain on the third and final day of the Exhibition.

Now Mr. Speaker, as we are moving into the pre-planning stages for the 2024 Ag Show, the Ministry has budgeted one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00) for the 2023/24 fiscal year to continue our returned hosting duties. As the Department of Parks currently has more time to plan and prepare, the general public can expect an improved and more refined experience with the 2024 Ag Show.

Thank you again to all those connected in organising this spectacle while acknowledging our local time honoured traditions.

Thank You Mr. Speaker!