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THE EVOLUTION OF A FARM SHOW
INTERNATIONAL AGRI-CENTER MOVES FROM YEARLY FARM SHOW HOST TO AGRICULTURE HUB
Heritage Complex, the newest addition to the International Agri-Center, is the setting forinternational activities during the World Ag Expo.
A seed was planted in 1967 as three businessmen traveled the five-hour trip from a farm show in Colusa, Calif., to Tulare, Calif. The travelers recognized a need for a regional farm exhibition and established the California Field and Row Crop Show located at the Tulare County Fair Grounds. After 35 years, a few name changes and the move to a new location, The World Ag Expo is the largest agricultural show in the United States and boasts international recognition for its ability to show foreign buyers what American agriculture has to offer.

Today, The World Ag Expo is much more than a once-per-year farm show. It has a permanent home with the International Agri-Center, a nonprofit organization that exists to promote agriculture through sponsorship of the show and hundreds of events throughout the year.

Gary Schulz, general manager of the International Agri-Center
Gary Schulz, general manager of the International Agri-Center, says that the Heritage Complex, a 57,000 square foot facility on the 200-acre grounds of the Agri-Center, is a center for agriculture learning. "The Heritage Complex is a tool we use to extend the enthusiasm of The World Ag Expo by holding meetings, seminars and tours throughout the year."

Heritage Complex houses a farm equipment museum, gift shop, cafe-deli, international trade center, banquet hall, multimedia theatre, and agricultural learning center. One of the main objectives of the complex is to acquaint young and old alike with agriculture, the careers associated with it and the economic impact agriculture delivers.

"The facility is really a focal point for California agriculture," Schulz explains. "One example is a film we commissioned called, 'A Day in the Life of a California Farmer,' which we show to urban visitors and young people who visit ."

In addition, Heritage Complex is close to the headquarters of the International Agri-Center Inc., Southern California Edison's AgTAC (Agricultural Technology Application Center), the Tulare County Ag Commissioner's Headquarters and the Tulare County Office of the University of California Cooperative Extension.

INTERNATIONAL FLAIR

If gaining entry into international markets is on your company's to-do list, then The World Ag Expo is the place to catch the attention of more than 1,000 international buyers and guests. More than 1,400 companies exhibit at the show each year, which provides 2.1 million square feet of exhibit space.

The sheer size and diversity of the show is exactly what attracts so many international guests. The World Ag Expo is also fortunate to be one of 28 trade shows nationwide accepted into the 2003 and 2004 U.S. Department of Commerce International Buyer Program, which Schulz likens to the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval." He says the World Ag Expo has participated in this program before and typically sees a leap in international attendance when endorsed by the program.

With the increase in attendance, you can bet guests will be flocking to the international trade center. This facility offers international guests office space, facilitates VIP meetings and conducts professional seminars during the farm show.

"The International Trade Center is great for foreign embassies and buyers to build and establish relationships within U.S. agriculture," Schulz says. "International guests don't have to be referred to another location after the February show. We always have a place for them to meet."

Another unique aspect of the International Agri-Center is the customer service that it extends to exhibitors and guests. Nearly 1,000 volunteers keep the farm show, antique show and daily tours running smoothly.

"We want visitors to get the most out of any experience we provide - the volunteers make that possible," Schulz says. "Our volunteers take care of everything from name badges to news distribution."

The 2003 World Ag Expo will be held February 11-13 in Tulare, Calif. For more information, visit www.farmshow.org or call 800/999-9186. AM


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