Kinsmen hosting 30th annual Drayton Farm Show on April 6 and 7

ARCHIVED ARTICLE – Over the last three decades the Drayton Farm Show has grown into one of the most successful agri-business showcases in the province.

And on April 6 and 7 the Drayton Kinsmen will host the 30th annual show at the PMD Arena.

“You are going to be informed and amazed at what new technology and equipment is available to those who choose to grow your grains and supply you with eggs, milk, pork, beef, and chicken,” said Glenn Dobben, this year’s Drayton Farm Show chairman.

The show, hosted annually by the Kinsmen club,  regularly welcomes about 2,000 visitors over the course of two days, and many of its exhibitors have been with the show for over 25 years.

While smaller than some of the farm shows hosted in larger urban centres, the Drayton show has over the years built a reputation as not only one of the most interesting, but also the most productive for exhibitors and guests alike.

“You see a lot of people in Toronto [at the Canadian International Farm Show], but in Drayton you do a lot of business,” said Dobben, relaying some of the feedback received at last year’s show.

Dobben was pleased to announce that, for the first time ever, there will be a brand new layout for the 30th annual event.

That will be a welcome change for exhibitors and visitors, he explained, as it takes advantage of the new arena expansion and makes room for 23 new exhibitors.

The Drayton show has become so popular and productive for exhibitors, there is very little turnover each year and dealers avoid losing their spot. But unfortunately, that also means that for the last several years, there has been a waiting list of over 40 exhibitors wanting to get involved.

“We had to try something,” Dobben said of the new layout.

Also new this year is the chance for exhibitors to offer workshops and seminars in several rooms at the arena. Dobben said the idea is to allow exhibitors to offer demonstrations on what they do or sell to groups of up to 20 or 30 people. This is the first time the show has ever offered that opportunity.

Yet another new item this year will be a 30th anniversary hat to celebrate the success of the show, in addition to the hourly door prizes.

In past years, the Kinsmen have hosted a banquet or chicken dinner the night before the show opens. That is not happening this year, but it’s not because past events weren’t successful.

“With it being the 30th anniversary, we wanted to concentrate just on the show itself,” Dobben said.

When asked about what makes the show so successful overall, year after year, Dobben said it can really be summed up in one word: family.

“Our exhibitors realize that many of the people visiting our show are from family built farms where everyone plays a part of its success,” he said. “They know many people on a first name basis and genuinely care that what they provide you is the best.”

While the primary emphasis at the show is on all things related to agriculture, the show features plenty of great displays and information for people from all walks of life.

“The Drayton Kinsmen have been honoured to bring you the Farm Show for the past 30 years,” said Dobben. “Together our community and our exhibitors have given back to the community over a quarter of a million dollars.”

Toy tractor

One thing that won’t change this year is the sale of the annual Drayton Farm Show toy tractor collector’s item.

This year’s tractor is an Ertl, wide front Case 830. It is a customized 1/16 scale with front and rear lights and comes in a custom box.

The real tractor was in production from 1960 to 1969 and manufactured in Racine, Wisconsin. The original price in 1969 was $6,000 and the tractor had a 31-gallon fuel capacity and 64 PTO horsepower.

The cost for the toy tractors is $85 each and as of March 18 there were still some available. However, most years the tractors sell out before the farm show even starts.

“We only sell 75 every year,” said Dobben, noting the tractors are custom made and hand painted with original decals. “It’s definitely a collector’s item.”

He said many people never remove the toys from the boxes they come in and some can count all 30 in their Drayton Farm Show collection.

To inquire about the tractors or to purchase one – if there are any left – contact John Klaassen at 519-638-0242.

Show history

In 1981, a few members of the Drayton Kinsmen Club came up with the idea of showcasing and promoting local businesses.

“It was just something we dreamed up as a potential fundraiser and service for the community,” said Larry Schill, who was the very first chairman 30 years ago.

“We never dreamed it would turn out to be the success it has become. It was just a one-year trial and it just went on from there.”

In 1981, the show was confined to the ice surface only and Schill said he’ll never forget the conditions for the inaugural show. The ice surface had just come out the day before and the show was held on a cold day, leaving show exhibitors to stand on the very cold concrete floor for hours.

“It was a bit of a learning experience,” he said with a  laugh.

Over the years the show has grown in size and the technology has improved somewhat, but in many ways the show hasn’t changed that much at all, Schill explained.

“It’s still one-stop shopping,” he said. And while exhibitors come from all over, most of them are still from within Mapleton Township or Wellington County.

“It really is those local people … and that’s the reason they come to the show,” Schill said.

The 2011 version

The 30th annual Drayton Farm Show will be held on April 6 and 7 at the PMD arena from 11am to 10pm.

Admission is again just $3, with $1 of every admission going to cystic fibrosis research. The rest of the show’s proceeds – from both admissions and exhibitor rentals – will go to various Kinsmen projects throughout the community.

This year’s show will feature over 120 exhibitors, representing a wide range of products and services.

For more information about the Drayton Farm Show, call Glenn Dobben at 519-323-1734 or visit