“For this year’s convention, we want to showcase the city, with its fun urban vibe, its warmth and its multiculturalism,” said conference chairman Sammy Cacciatore, president of Sun Grape Marketing Inc., which operates in Quebec and California.
The convention opens Thursday night with a sophisticated cocktail party at a downtown art gallery near host hotel Montreal Sheraton Centre.
Friday dawns with a choice of three activities.
There’s golf at La Prairie, ranked one of Quebec’s finest public courses. Adventure seekers can head to the Olympic basin for a round of dragon boat racing, with tips from the pros. Other delegates can indulge in a gourmet tour of Montreal, including a stop and a taste of the Jean Talon public market in Little Italy.
Friday night, Tonic Night, brings Montreal’s renowned nightlife to the convention floor with an animated show, live music and martinis. Cacciatore promises a “Sex in the City” vibe, and guests are urged to dress in “exuberant” evening wear, from sequins to stilettos.
Saturday is a day of inspiring speakers who personify the conference theme of “Get involved, Commit, Achieve.”
First up is Lino Saputo Jr., chief executive officer of Montreal-based Saputo Inc., which manufactures and distributes cheese to more than 40 countries and boasts 12,000 employees.
Saputo will discuss his vision of entrepreneurship and share his passion for the agrifood industry.
Motivational speaker Rémi Tremblay, president and founder of La Maison des Leaders and employment agency Adecco Canada, will talk about becoming a better boss by becoming a better person.
TV host Pierre Bruneau, founder of Montreal’s Charles Bruneau Cancer Research Centre, will discuss the importance of getting involved.
Saturday’s closing banquet introduces QPMA president-elect Marie Gosselin of Les Serres du St-Laurent (Savoura) in Portneuf, and honors Pierre Dolbec of Sherrington-based Veg Pro International Inc., 2013 Pillar of the Industry.
Instead of the usual musical finale, Cacciatore’s committee decided to send delegates home laughing, with a performance by Montreal-born comedian Sugar Sammy.
The Hollywood Reporter calls Sammy one of the world’s top 10 talents to watch. In keeping with the conference’s bilingual nature, Sammy will perform in “franglais,” a mash-up of French and English.
To end the annual conference in style, outgoing president Pat Calabretta and Gosselin will host a final reception, complete with deejay, until 3 a.m.