Exhibitors awash in sales, the first-ever FFA Assembly, huge crowds and sunny skies created a memorable 44th edition of World Ag Expo.
The sunshine and the reputation of World Ag Expo drew a sea of attendees - and the good news is that they were looking to buy.
OXBO International's Brent Borboa said the week had gotten "off to a good start" on opening day, with "the right people here today - the decision-makers." He found a lot of interest in his product, and "more optimism" this year.
Mike Caruso, with Top-10 New Product winner AMSOIL, called the show "awesome."
First-time exhibitor Johnny Georges of Tree T Pee had to retreat to his rental car just to get some rest from the flood of buyers and interested distributors. He has been "overwhelmed" by the interest from distributors and a "continuing flow" of buyers interested in his citrus product.
Attendee and Forage Challenge award winner Kelly Callahan, of Royal City, Wash., has been to World Ag Expo for the past 12 years. He and his family farm 3,000 acres, operate a 1,500-cow dairy, raise apples, operate a gravel pit and a construction company and have a well-drilling enterprise. To equip those businesses, the family "spends about a quarter of a million dollars" on equipment in the year after World Ag Expo.
"We do all our research here, and then go back home and buy," Callahan said. "Our equipment needs are so diverse we really have to see the whole show."
The international reputation of World Ag Expo drew 1,204 registered attendees from 64 nations, and 50 exhibitors from 13 nations, including China, Turkey, Netherlands, Austria and India. A committee of 127 translators offer translation for 20 different languages and dialects.
A farm family from Ghana was enjoying the hospitality of the International Business Center on Wednesday, resting after their first tour of the show grounds and planning their strategy for the second tour.
Patriarch of the farming operation, AA Salam Akate, attended World Ag Expo previously, and this time brought his family, partners in the diversified operation. They grow maize and citrus, and have livestock and poultry. They were impressed by the size of ag equipment on display and were enjoying learning how to grow and harvest more efficiently - and hoping to purchase equipment.
World Ag Expo is all about business and education - with some fun thrown in for good measure. This year's edition featured a two-night concert series, an FFA Assembly for more than 2,000 students and a flash mob dance on Median Street, as well as cooking demonstrations and fashion shows at the World Ag Women Pavilion.
Six World Ag Expo attendees are particularly glad they attended the 2011 expo - the winners of this year's give-aways:
· Tuesday, Honda MUV: Jane Yeung, Sacramento, grower of tomatoes, cucumber seed, corn and more.
· Wednesday, Honda MUV: Kelly Kelley, Frazier Valley, Calif., a horse rancher.
· Wednesday, Trimble Yuma Rugged Tabled computer: Tyler Nino, Tulare.
· Thursday, Honda MUV: Scott Thompson, Stockton, Calif.
· Thursday, Massey Ferguson: David Neil, Tangent, Ore.
· Thursday, Toyota Tundra/FFA fundraiser: William Camp, Acton, Calif.
"One of the things that makes World Ag Expo unique is the diversity of exhibits, the diversity of attendees and the quality of the attendees," noted 2011 Chairman Lee Coito. "From rice to citrus, dairy to agrichemicals, our exhibitors show it all, along with some surprises like personal aircraft. And the beauty of it is, exhibitors of all types find success here."
The competition in the Forage Challenge, sponsored by Mycogen Seeds, gets tougher every year, as the word spreads and more farmers enter. The first-place winners this year are:
· Alfalfa hay, Lazy 2K Livestock, Kellie Hinman, Wheatland, N.Y.
· Corn silage, Royal Turf Farms, Kelly Callahan, Royal City, Wash.
· Brown mid-rib corn silage, Tony Borba Dairy, Escalon, Calif.
The $18,000 in cash prizes was sponsored by Lallemand Animal Nutrition North America.
World Ag Expo celebrates its 45th anniversary Feb. 14-16, 2012, under the leadership of volunteer Chairman Patti Coito. For details and information, visit worldagexpo.com.