World Ag Expo is a sight to see
World Ag Expo in Tulare next month should be on everyone’s bucket list if they have not already been to at least one show.
World Ag Expo is the three-day farm equipment and technology extravaganza. Over 1 million square feet of exhibit space is utilized to the fullest by more than 1,600 companies displaying everything from tiny micro chips to several tons of machinery. Officials expect more than 100,000 visitors for the show Feb. 12-14.
Having worked at the newspaper in Tulare, I got an inside look at the planning and logistics of the massive show — in fact the largest farm equipment and technology show in the world.
WAE will mark its 46th year and if one word is constant about the show, it is growth. Every year the show gets larger. From its humble beginnings in 1967 at the Tulare County Fairgrounds, the show has grown to the sprawling International Agri-Center on South Laspina Avenue.
I have spent my share of hours at the show. In fact, one year I walked so much I strained ligaments in my foot.
I have been to shows where you could not keep warm, or dry, and shows where you certainly did not want a jacket. I was in Tulare when a strong wind storm the weekend before the show opened blew down and damaged many of the tents and exhibits. That was the only year that the show was delayed — by just a day. A wind storm during another year did some minor damage, but did not close the show.
Officials will tell you the weather is not a factor. In fact, they would rather see some rain because that means farmers cannot be out working their fields so they tend to visit the show.
Like the Porterville Fair here where volunteers are key, World Ag Expo would not happen without the army of volunteers. Agri-Center CEO Jerry Sinift told me the volunteer crew is up to about 1,200 citizens, most from Tulare, but some from miles away. I have always thought that when and if I ever retire, it would be fun to be one of those Orange Jacket volunteers and work the show. I would especially like to be involved with the international aspect. When I was in Tulare, I always made it a must to attend the international reception for both exhibitors and attendees. The show draws people from all over the world. Large numbers come from Mexico and Canada, but Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Italy, France and Germany are also represented. It is fun to be a fly on the wall at the reception, listening to the different languages and accents.
But, no show would be complete for me without stopping by the vehicle displays — Chevrolet, GM, Ford and Chrysler. I have noticed over the years that more and more business women are at those displays and they have their vehicle facts down.
In fact, women seem to play a larger and more important role at the show every year. Gone are the days of the lure of a sexy women selling a man’s product. Today, the women you will find at the show are professional, well-educated and well-versed in the product they are displaying. Today, it is the looks and lure of the product that attracts buyers. Gone are the sexy women.
I also enjoy the large equipment displays — Case IH, John Deere, New Holland — because after all, it is a farm equipment show. Those six-row cotton pickers are amazing, but so are the forage harvesters that for a few extra bucks, will record inch by inch the yield coming from a particular field as the harvester passes over. Using GPS, the farmer can find out where more nutrients are needed to ensure he will get the best yield possible next harvest.
There are literally thousands of new innovations to learn about, from best irrigation practices, to how to get the most milk from your herd. However, gone are the days you can see most or all at the show in a day. In fact, I think you need every bit of all three days, and a pair of comfortable shoes.
Rick Elkins is editor of the Porterville Recorder. He can be reached at 784-5000, ext. 1040, or by e-mail at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.