Every year the Paris Agricultural show brings together 30,000 farmers, breeders, and food producers—along with over 4,000 animals. It’s a chance for thousands to see rare mountain cows, learn about farm practices, and revive rural traditions.
Over 650,000 people, many of them families, come to the event.
The star attraction is Imminence, a 5-year-old cow picked to be this year’s mascot, which earned her a celebrity’s welcome with dozens of television cameras and a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron.
“Imminence’s from hardy breed mixed race, which means it produces both milk and meat. It is a very gentle, very curious cow. She’s kind to humans. It takes a real passion to be a breeder, that’s what I always say. It takes a real passion to be a breeder, that’s what I always say. I’m so proud that I could transmit this passion to my kids. They show a lot of motivation for it,” said Imminence’s breeder Gilles Druet.
The show also features food workshops, rural traditional music, and dances and proposes new experiences to the public. Ecology-friendly practices are also encouraged like new alternatives to chemical pesticides.
“I believe there is a return to tradition in farming practices today. There is a knowledge in the rural heritage, which has been passed down to farmers and they are willing to give it a chance. We wish for farmers and customers to eat healthily and inexpensively, and this is a point of pride for us,” Terrena marketing manager Gaëlle Delevallet.
The farm show, a major political event in a country that is proud of its agricultural heritage and it is tradition was opened by the president in a marathon tour of its many stands.
This year’s event takes place in the middle of the Great Debate—a nationwide series of discussions organized by Macron in response to the Yellow Vest protest movement.
Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume said the movement—inspired by a cost of living seen as too high and a political class seen as too distant—expressed different concerns from those of farmers though he admitted the show was an opportunity to reconnect French towns with the countryside.
For politicians, the show offers the opportunity to see farmers and to be viewed as lending an ear to their concerns, perhaps an advantage in the run-up to European elections.
Last year nearly 700,000 visitors trooped to the show at a vast hall in the south of Paris, and the thousands of animals fed on 253 tons of straw.