41st Ontario Pork Congress
The Ontario Pork Congress is Canada’s largest pig show and brings together all segments of the pork industry to showcase new technologies, get educated about the latest issues and celebrate a healthy, vibrant sector.
Attending producers can expect to see a wide range of over 200 exhibitors and retailers from all over the pork industry and around the globe – from feed and animal health products, to barn ventilation technology and sow housing equipment retailers.
Frank Hogervorst, the 2014 Pork Congress President and a 25-year veteran of the Canadian pork industry, says that one of the main aims of this year’s Congress is to provide a well-rounded event that will cater to both a producer-focused and general audience.
“We’re basically trying to make this year’s congress a greater hog experience for the people that come,” he explains. “We’re introducing some new initiatives and bringing back popular events from last year’s Congress to key up interest among the pork producers, as well as the general public.”
This year’s Pork Congress will see the OPC organizers partner once again with the Stratford Blues and Rib Festival on a five-day pork festival called, “Hog Wild Week Stratford.” A number of events, including live musical performances and tastings at local restaurants and microbreweries will run alongside the Pork Congress from June 20 to 22.
A major event on the agenda will be the popular “Pork for a Cause Hog Jog”, a 3.5 kilometer run/walk and 10 kilometer run that annually draws hundreds of participants and raises awareness and funds for a local charity.
Another returning event from last year will be “Taste the Best”, a culinary competition that pits five local, Stratford restaurants against each other in a bid to find the most tasty – and unique – pork dishes.
However, a key change to the Pork Congress this year is that there will be no live animals or swine events onsite. As a result, the Junior and Senior Barrow Shows – known as the “Bacon Maker Classic” – have been cancelled. This, explains Hogervorst, is a proactive and precautionary measure brought on by the recent Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus outbreak in Ontario.
He adds that Barrow show entrants will still be able to submit video views of their animals to be viewed and judged.
In lieu of live swine events, Hogervorst and the OPC organizers are taking the opportunity this year to provide a series of all-new educational events through the introduction of the OSI Bacon Maker Classic Educational Pavilion.
Attendees can make their way through a series of interactive areas that give them a full, interactive, start-to-finish look at the pork production process, including basic facts about hog, breeding and meat cuts, as well as in-depth looks at nutrition, feed carcass quality and biosecurity.
“I think it’s going to be fun – we’re going to make this a great part of this year’s show – the committee has done an amazing job in a relatively short amount of time to pull everything together,” says OPC Vice President Christine Schoonderwoerd.
As for a take-home message for people looking to attend this year’s festivities, Hogervorst concludes with a simple message:
“I think the message is, come out, learn and enjoy,” he says. “Come out to learn the facts about the different changes in the industry, the different equipment that is available and to enjoy your fellow farmer and all the people in the industry that you do business with.”
The 41st Ontario Pork Congress runs June 18 and 19 at the Stratford Rotary Complex in Stratford Ontario; The Stratford Blues and Rib Festival takes place June 20 – 22.