World Ag Expo Competition?

7/19/2008 Tulare, CA The Ag Expo brings growers and exhibitors from all over the world to Tulare County each February and pumps more than one-billion dollars into the local economy. But now event organizers are bracing for the possibility that a big trade show organization will soon create its own show in a larger U.S. City.

The general manager of the International Agri-Center said it all started about 18 months ago when another organization called the Association of Equipment Manufacturers offered to buy them out. He said after they said no thanks; AEM announced plans to put on its own show. "We're not panicking, the sky isn't falling, but we're concerned and we're making sure that everyone understands the value the World Ag Expo brings their exhibit," said International Agri-Center General Manager Jerry Sinift.

Sinift said the vice president of AEM, which produces trade shows across the country, confirmed plans for another show. Sinift says some exhibitors want a show held in a much larger city than Tulare, like Las Vegas or Orlando. "They want a place where they can entertain their top clients from across the world, house them, feed them, and entertain them on the show site. That's what attractive about a tier one kind of a city," said Sinift.

Sinift said a lack of hotel rooms has long been an issue among exhibitors and visitors, and a foggy accident on last year's opening day didn't help things. "People who come from all across the world who are not used to fog, who don't know how to drive in the fog, it's kind of scary. And we heard about it," said Sinift.

The idea of another show farther away is also concerning to growers and exhibitors like Ed Needham. "I can reach a huge, a very large amount of people for an economical cost; compared to if I had to travel to Las Vegas, Denver, or another venue. There's no way I could afford to do that," said Needham.

Regardless of AEM's plans, Sinift says the World Ag Expo will still go on even if a competitor moves in. "We have room to dig a hole, to mow grass, to drive a tractor. I can tell you, you don't do that in downtown Las Vegas or Orlando," said Sinift.

AEM has not made any formal announcement on a new Ag trade show and plans to reach the organization were unsuccessful Friday afternoon. But the general manager of the World Ag Expo says AEM may make an announcement as soon as next week.

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