Central Valley won't feel World Ag Expo's economic impact in 2021

With no in-person World Ag Expo show planned for 2021 due to COVID-19, there will be no benefits for the local economy.
TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Vejar's Mexican Restaurant is just a few miles from the International Agri-Center, home to the famous World Ag Expo.

So every February, there's a big bump in business.

Vendors and visitors grab a bite to eat and maybe even have a drink too.

"Well it's one of our busiest times of the year," Jose Zaragoza said. "We get a lot of crowds from other areas, out of state or out of the country."

The economic impact of the World Ag Expo runs deep, Tulare Chamber of Commerce CEO Donnette Silva Carter says.

A study for the 2020 expo shows visitors and vendors spent more than $27 million on food, hotels, transportation, and other purchases.

But with no-in person show planned for 2021 due to COVID-19, there will be no benefits for the local economy.

"They definitely rely on the impact of World Ag Expo, and to not have that is certainly going to be hurtful to their bottom line," Silva Carter said.

RELATED: World Ag Expo 2021 to be completely digital

The same study shows the 2020 expo created a $52 million economic output, including $30 million for Tulare County.

The county also received $1.2 million in tax revenue from the event.

International Agri-Center Marketing Manager Jennifer Fawkes says those statistics represent their important role in the community, and shows how the community plays a part too.

"It's not just us at the International Agri-Center," Fawkes said. "It is so much a Tulare and Tulare County effort. And that is honestly one of the things besides not being able to welcome people to the area, it's not being able to interact with the community in 2021 in that way that's going to be really disappointing."

Vejar's knows they won't see the farm show's familiar faces for at least another year.

But they're keeping the faith and focusing on the future.

"We're hoping we'll stay doing alright, regardless of the farm show and COVID pandemic," Zaragoza said. "I mean hoping things get better, right?"

Non-profits also rely on the World Ag Expo for their fundraising efforts.

International Agri-Center officials say they will try to help those organizations in 2021.

One possibility?

Drive-through food events on the show grounds.
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