Ag at Large: For ag, the shows must go on – again

By Don Curlee | Contributed

California agriculture’s two major farm equipment shows are again scheduled for early February, continuation of a more than 50-year tradition. They will be crowded.

Now in its 53rd presentation, the Colusa Farm Equipment Show (Feb. 7- 9) includes three days of serious shopping by Sacramento Valley farmers. For them it’s a little like having Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas Eve farm equipment specials all in one location.        

The following week, Feb. 14-16, World Ag Expo will be staged for the 50th time in Tulare at the continually expanding and increasingly accommodating show grounds just off Highway 99.  The anniversary celebration will include several special events open to all attendees.        

For the show in Colusa, held at the Colusa County Fairgrounds, admission and parking are free.  After the first day of tire kicking, bargaining and deliberating, Wednesday begins with 1,000 or more attending breakfast at nearby St. Bernadette’s Hall. At the show grounds, a continuing series of meaningful seminars will beckon attendees indoors, especially welcome in case of rain.        

Management has created 24 new outdoor exhibit spaces at Colusa, while indoor locations were reserved by November, some as the 2016 version of the show closed. Volunteers play a major role in the show’s unfolding as night watchmen for the valuable collection of equipment, fork lift operators and general coordinators during the days.

Hundreds of volunteers in their bright orange jackets are a trademark of the World Ag Expo, and one of the keys to its amazing success and growth. Many of the exhibitors are familiar with the often exorbitant imposed fees charged at other commercial exhibit venues for last-minute hook-ups, furniture or fixtures to make their exhibits attractive and comfortable. For the most part, the volunteers at World Ag Expo can be counted on to accommodate all exhibitor requests promptly and reasonably.

As part of the plan to provide new and exciting activities for this year’s 50th anniversary, World Ag Expo will activate an area of the grounds not used at previous shows called The Arena. It is located near the front or main entrance to the spacious grounds. Opening ceremonies Tuesday morning will be held there featuring a lineup of interesting speakers and show officials. It will also showcase a variety of presentations four times each day, with comfortable seating provided.

Inside the grounds, visitors will find that the pavilion known for home arts has been transformed as a showcase for 30 exhibitors who produce, display or sell only California products. Four times every day it will feature live presentations by those exhibitors – a kind of visual/sensory production for visitors to the grounds.

For the third consecutive year the Budweiser after-hours party will begin each day as the grounds close at 5 p.m. It is staged in a pavilion just outside the south gate, which leads to one of the show’s huge free parking areas, and is open to all who are on the grounds at the time.

        A special exhibit of tractors manufactured in each of the 50 years since the show began in 1968 will be maintained in a special exhibit area, with easy access for all visitors. Food booths manned by nearly two dozen community, school and charitable organizations will operate each day. Shuttle busses will deliver visitors to the grounds from at least a half dozen locations. An admission fee can be paid by e-mail a month or more ahead of opening day.

The popularity and growth of these shows has been phenomenal, especially for Ag Expo, which has shared its tremendous growth with the city and county – a kind of return on the investment by city and county which began 50 years ago.