The World Ag Expo, the largest trade show of its kind, is getting ready to launch its three-day run at the International Agri-Center in Tulare.
The annual event begins Tuesday and is expected to attract thousands of visitors from throughout the state, nation and world.
Inside the sprawling grounds of the Agri-Center will be more than 1,500 exhibitors sharing 2.6 million square feet of space. Nearly everything connected to agriculture can be found at the expo, from massive multi-row harvesters to sophisticated software designed to increase efficiency.
Last year, the event drew 102,867 people over its three-day run. Of those, 83 percent were from the U.S. and 17 percent were international visitors.
The expo pours millions of dollars into the region’s economy. In 2010, expo officials estimated the economic impact to the San Joaquin Valley was $600 million.
Restaurants and hotels are swarmed during the event. And even the Visalia Municipal Airport sees an uptick in activity.
“We will see a huge increase, probably five times our average,” said Mario Cifuentez, Visalia’s airport manager. “We will see corporate jets, Gulfstream jets, Citation jets and even single-engine Cessnas land here.”
Entering its 49th year, the expo has grown from a humble gathering known as Tulare’s Field and Row Crop Equipment Show to a mega-event that requires 65 acres of parking.
The place to debut products
“This is where you come when you have a product that you want agriculture to pay attention to,” said Dennis Dop, vice president of sales for RSI Video Technologies in Minnesota.
Dop’s company was one of the expo’s Top 10 new product award winners. The company manufactures a video alarm system that is part motion detector and part built-in video camera. It operates on battery power, allowing it to be used in areas without electricity.
Once the motion sensor is triggered, the camera records a 10-second video clip that is sent to a monitoring station and the property owner. Dop said the system is being used to protect against the theft of copper wire, farm equipment and livestock.
This is where you come when you have a product that you want agriculture to pay attention to.
Dennis Dop, vice president of sales RSI Video Technologies in Minnesota
“We have some modern-day cattle rustlers out there who will back a truck up, load some cows and off they go,” Dop said. “With this system, not only are you alerted to something happening, but now you also get a photo that you can give to law enforcement.”
Another item that could generate interest is a product called MegaWash, made by Coldwell Solar Inc. in Rocklin. The MegaWash system is a mobile tractor that cleans solar panels while using less water than traditional hand washing.
“With all the solar systems being used on farms these days, this could save both water and manpower,” said Marissa Carpenter, spokeswoman for the World Ag Expo, echoing a theme that resonates through much of the event: Enticing farmers with water-saving equipment and technology as well as methods to reduce labor costs and meet tighter food safety regulations.
Tours, demos, documentary – and, of course, food
Although the expo is heavy on equipment and technology, it also offers several other attractions, including farm tours, cooking demonstrations, and the screening of the documentary, “Dead Harvest.” The film – a look at the drought’s impact on agriculture – will be shown twice a day at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Heritage Complex.
20,000 steak sandwiches Sundale school district expects to sell at its fundraising booth
Generating their own fair share of crowds will be the many food booths run by nonprofit groups, churches and schools. It takes about 70 volunteers from the Sundale Union Elementary School District to staff its food booth each day.
The district is known for its succulent, half-pound rib-eye sandwiches. Lines begin forming at about 11 a.m. and will be 20 people deep by lunchtime.
The school district estimates it will sell about 20,000 steak sandwiches during the expo.
“If you are a meat lover, this is your go-to sandwich,” said Ann Marie Acevedo, the district’s secretary. “We are very proud of what we do, and we hope it continues for years to come.”
World Ag Expo 2016
Where: International Agri-Center, 4500 S. Laspina St., Tulare
When: Feb 9-11. Tuesday and Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: $15 a day, children 6 and younger free
For more information: 800-999-9186, www.worldagexpo.org