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80th annual Maine Agricultural Trade Show goes virtual

The event starts Tuesday and is free and open to the public.
Maine Alpaca Experience.
Maine Alpaca Experience.(WABI)
Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 4:01 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - For almost 80 years, folks across the state have come together at the Maine Agricultural Trade Show.

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry typically hosts the event at the Augusta Civic Center.

“It brings together farmers and service providers and the general public to learn and network and generally touch base. This is an outdoor based community, so January is a great time to get together,” said Nancy McBrady, a Bureau Director for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.

Like many things, the pandemic has forced the show to go virtual this year.

The five-day event will be live-streamed across various platforms.

Over a dozen sessions will offer topics like a 2020 drought review and Make a Maine Cheese Board.

“There’s a lot of conversation around what the impact of COVID-19 has been to the agricultural community and economy, the food economy. There’s just going to be a lot of great learnings,” said McBrady.

Co-owner of Maine Alpaca Experience, Robin Fowler Pratt, is finding the bright side of the virtual shift.

“This way, wow, it’s amazing. We’re going to be offering a zoom tour here of the farm and our shop and the outreach for small farms like ours, or any business, it’s tremendous,” said Pratt.

She and her team have been offering virtual visits to their farm since the start of the pandemic.

“Our alpacas are now visiting people all over the world every day for free. We’re doing free tours with hundreds of thousands of children’s organizations, medical organizations, bringing joy to people during this terrible time,” said Pratt.

Organizers say they hope to be back in person next year, but the ability to reach more people online could be an added plus.

“It’s one of those times where going virtual actually allows us to be even a little more personal than in the past,” said Pratt.

The event is free and open to the public.

More information can be found on their website.

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