The Expo began in 1968, and was held at the Tulare County Fairgrounds in Tulare, Calif. When the 3-day run of the first show was complete, exhibitors were lining up to sign contracts for the second show in 1969. The first show attracted 157 exhibitors with 28,000 attendees. By the second year, the show doubled in both attendees and exhibitors, and continued to grow ever since.
Tulare’s location in the center of the state and the heart of the agriculturally-rich San Joaquin Valley proved accessible and attractive to farm equipment manufacturers and dealers from around the world. The exhibitors found an organized show in a central location where they could display their agriculture products, services and equipment to an interested audience of farmers who were serious, potential buyers. The attendees found a place where they could view the latest technology, and agricultural equipment and services in one location.
Originally the “Tulare Field and Row Crop Equipment Show,” it quickly outgrew its name, and became the “California Farm Equipment Show” for the second show in 1969. In 1972, the first foreign manufacturers began moving in to display their products, leading to the name change “California Farm Equipment Show and International Exposition” and finally, the current name, “World Ag Expo,” adopted in 2001.
With the increase in international exhibitors and visitors, the United States Department of Commerce sensed an opportunity to enhance U.S. export trade. The Department of Commerce designated and publicized the show throughout the world as an official affiliate of the Foreign Buyer Program. Throughout the 1970s, the show continued to grow, eventually leading to a shortage of space at the fairgrounds. In 1976, the show directors voted to explore the formation of a special corporation that would establish an international agribusiness showplace in the Tulare area. With a feasible plan in place, a non-profit corporation was created – the International Agri-Center, Inc. A section of the Faria family farm became the site for the new showgrounds - located just south of Tulare on Laspina Street, conveniently along Highway 99.
The 15th California Farm Equipment Show and International Exposition opened its doors on the new showgrounds, February 9, 1982. This new location provided Tulare with the first facility in the Western United States ever constructed to house an agricultural trade show and other farm-related events. Throughout the years, exhibitors found the now World Ag Expo, a show devoted to the task of bringing seller and buyer together, a sound investment in the future of their business.
The International Agri-Center is continually enhancing and expanding the showgrounds for the comfort and convenience of farmers and exhibitors. One such addition came in response to the growing need for more space for dairy industry displays; leading to the opening of the now 80,000-square foot Dairy Center in 1991.
This year, the Expo will once again expand to meet the growing demand for dairy related exhibits. The show will open with an additional 100,000 square feet of exhibit space in the dairy section. The new Dairy Technology Center and surrounding outdoor exhibit space will bring the Expo’s total footprint to 2.6 million square feet.
The key element to the success of the World Ag Expo is the “Orange Jacket Volunteers.” These dedicated, selfless, unpaid volunteers are the heart and soul of the largest agricultural exposition in the world. The show idea was created by volunteers, started by volunteers, and has been operated by volunteers since the beginning.
The 2008 World Ag Expo is Feb. 12-14, at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, Calif. This year, the Expo will expand to 2.6 million square feet with the addition of the Dairy Technology Center and outdoor exhibits in the dairy section. The 2008 World Ag Expo is Where the World of Agriculture Means Business. For more information visit www.worldagexpo.com or call 800-999-9186.