The Camrose Regional Exhibition has played an integral role in the City of Camrose and the surrounding rural area since 1908.
The Camrose Regional Exhibition (CRE) & Agricultural Society began in September 1908. The CRE’s original objectives focused on encouraging improvement in agriculture, horticulture, and homemaking, resulting in an improved quality of life for members of the agricultural community.
To meet these objectives the Society established the Camrose Summer Fair, which was a major event in the community providing a showcase for excellence in agricultural production and a forum for the introduction of new technology, equipment, and production methods.
From 1908 until 1980, the Camrose Regional Exhibition was located on the south side of Camrose. As the city grew, much of the residential development took place on the fairgrounds. This resulted in the relocation of the site to the east side of Camrose in 1980. The Society continued to operate on the original site until 1988, when all operations were moved to the new site. Construction of the Exhibition Centre was completed in the fall of 1988 and provided the impetus for the growth that fuels the CRE today.
These simple beginnings signalled the evolution of the CRE into a dynamic organization based on a philosophy of innovation in programming and dedication to superior customer service. The Camrose Regional Exhibition is the largest facility on Highway 13 and serves a client base that is local, provincial, national, and international in scope. The CRE offers all of the traditional programs and services associated with the exhibition business and several innovative services and programs unique to the CRE.
The CRE Story
Change is inevitable. Regardless of our tolerance of change, it keeps coming. Camrose Regional Exhibition & Agricultural Society is no different.
What started as an Agricultural Society in September of 1908, Camrose Regional Exhibition & Agricultural Society changed as required by the communities it serves through the decades including building fairgrounds and buildings in the centre of Camrose that now occupies the Camrose Recreation Centre complex. To being moved to a new location on the east side of Camrose with larger infrastructure to host the largest events in East Central Alberta including Big Valley Jamboree and Canadian Bull congress. Offering Agriculture and other forms of training, hosting community celebrations and creating and operating a campground in the city to boost Tourism impact just became part of the CRE’s mandate as time evolved. What the communities required, CRE answered the call.
As the organization grew to accommodate requests and offer services required, something happened. The roots and the DNA of the Society were lost. It became all about the Exhibition side and less about the Agricultural Society side. The focus became keeping the events and the venue going over decades often at a financial loss to the Society. The impact of decisions being made that served the venue and events instead of the Society’s mandate took priority often increasing the financial risk.
The CRE Board has always attracted some great visionaries and analysts that understand the importance of Community.
The work of the past four years has really been about auditing and analyzing every piece of the operation to enable the CRE Board to make the best decisions about the future.
They remain committed to the strategic planning process and established 4 new goals that would drive the future of the Agricultural Society. Those goals included Financial Security, Industry Leader, Collaboration Leader and Future focused.
When it became time to put a new plan into action, COVID shut down the CRE for two years. During those two years as is common in times of great stress, the desire to return to normalcy was the driving factor. As the Society committed to keeping a core staff employed thanks to the CEWS granting system and paying every loan payment and invoice on time, a few events took place. CRE was audited by the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Thanks to decisions already made to divest itself of BVJ and close down Panhandle Productions (PPLP), the organization received a warning rather than being shut down. The CRA did put restrictions in place that greatly hampered the revenue opportunities of the future. One of the CRA requirements was that CRE divest itself of the campground within the next five years.
Mayfield Investments Ltd. also decided to stop making payments on their 2015 Settlement Agreement which greatly financially impacted the organization due to no income streams during COVID. Instead of restarting payments to CRE upon opening, Mayfield decided to use litigation. To date no further payments of the debt have been received.
The shutdown from the COVID Pandemic of 2020 and 2021 and loss of revenues weakened the CRE position with its financial institution. Unfortunately, that resulted in cash flow restrictions and higher interest rates which reduced the operating funds needed to restart the organization.
It could no longer be ignored, and the Board took on the excruciating work of examining the CRE’s position, keeping in mind their four goals, and what the future would look like. The most challenging decision to make in a lifetime is to stop doing what you know intrinsically no longer works. Whether that reason is financial, operational, or strategic based, makes no difference how hard it is to stop doing it and admit it is not working. Every producer working in agriculture understands this process and the challenges that come it. Starting immediately the Camrose Regional Exhibition & Agricultural Society will begin the work of charting a new path through restructuring the organization.
- Sell off Campground to fulfill details laid out in the CRA Charities Directorate Education Letter
- Sell land that does not provide revenue streams to CRE. BVJ will purchase half of the land used as the BVJ Campground and the other half will remain the property of CRE.
- Begin Foreclosure legal proceedings on Mayfield Investments Inc. to recoup the financial investment.
- Review all facilities for occupancy levels and determine where limited capital fund repairs will be focused on. Determine if any facility needs to be de-commissioned or repurposed for the prospect of higher revenue generation.
- Scale back FREE-RE events to 4/year to conserve cash flow and labour requirements.
- Increase BINGOs to 4/year. (2 Ham & Turkey / 1 Cash and potentially one at BVJ)
- Review existing programming goals and analyze for future revenue potential. Determine which activities to continue with operational changes and which to end.
- Review feasibility study on Agriculture Education conducted in October/November to develop training/education features currently missing in the marketplace that align with renewed focus.
- Review current rental pricing for venue and décor items and institute 20% minimum increase across the board on all items.
- Develop Agricultural Client Price List for rentals.
- Review Staffing/Contractor models to ensure a lean, productive organization that maximizes financial costs.
- Develop a “move forward” vision to ensure the Agricultural Society, financial stability and collaboration focus, and update all operational plans and marketing.
Camrose Agricultural Society is committed to developing a new future that remains focused on the 4 goals of the organization: Financial Security, Industry Leader, Collaboration Leader and Future Focused. The time will be taken to ensure a smooth transition out of the previous business model into a new one that is being developed and will include a focus on assisting the development, collaboration, and entrepreneurial spirit of Agriculture. It will focus on assisting the development of a rural way of life that is enjoyed by so many. We are excited to share that vision in the future.
See Who’s Driving The CRE
The Camrose Regional Exhibition is governed by a 14-member board of directors. 12 are elected from the membership and two are appointed by the City of Camrose and Camrose County.View Board of Directors
Become a Member
Membership is the first step in becoming part of the leadership group at CRE.Become a Member
Working at the CRE is an opportunity to be part of special experiences with many different audiences
Volunteer with CRE
The CRE is a volunteer-based organization that is wholly dependent on the contributions of dedicated, skilled volunteers. The CRE annually accesses the services of approximately 2000 volunteers. These volunteers are involved at all levels within the organization.Volunteer Today