Abbotsford Agrifair records profit after prior $51,000 deficit

Cost-cutting measures result in budget turnaround for 2016

The annual Abbotsford Agrifair recorded a $17

Abbotsford Agrifair recorded a profit of more than $17,000 for this year’s event, after a $51,000 deficit from 2015 resulted in the cancellation of the annual rodeo.

The board released its financial statement for the year ending Sept. 30 during its annual general meeting on Wednesday night.

“A success on all accounts,” was how Agrifair president Ernie Silveri described this year’s fair, which ran July 29 to 31 at Abbotsford Exhibition Park.

The board announced in February of this year that it was cancelling the event’s 21-year-old Mighty Fraser Rodeo after last year’s deficit.

They said this would result in savings of between $75,000 and $80,000, which would have been spent on prize money, Canadian Professional Rodeo Association approval fees, and contractor fees.

Four months prior to that announcement, the board announced that the contract of general manager Pamela Brenner was not being renewed, in order to save about $68,000.

Another cost-saving measure put in place was changing the fair from four days to three.

Silveri said the cuts were difficult for the board to make, but they wanted to ensure the event could continue for many years to come.

“Everyone rose to the challenge. We focused on re-creating the fair, focusing on family first and trusting that the changes we made would bring in the community to its fair,” he said.

Vice-president and advertising director Stephanie Nelson said the board surpassed its sponsorship goal this year.

“We reached out to new advertising partners and promotional avenues, and it all worked together to create a buzz that the fair hasn’t seen in a long time,” she said.

Attendance had also dropped in 2015 – to 36,000 compared to about 37,000 in 2014 and 41,500 in 2013 — and organizers looked at ways of attracting more people this year, including more family-friendly entertainment and activities.

The three-day attendance for this year’s fair was approximately 30,000. Last year’s fair was held over four days and, when the attendance is averaged out each day, the three-day equivalent was about 27,000.

This year’s profit would have been even higher, but treasurer Bob Street said $17,000 went toward “previous obligations” to a former staff member. As well, due to a GST audit, Agrifair lost its 100 per cent refund status and was categorized at the 50 per cent level.

There were also additional unexpected expenses amounting to $7,500.

Nelson said that fair-goers who were surveyed indicated they would like to see a return of the rodeo.

“And so would the board – if we can afford it … It maybe be awhile before its return,” she said.