Building on the first Ag Connect Expo, the 2011 event offered even more exhibits and education seminars geared toward the agricultural industry. Held Jan. 7 to 10 in Atlanta, Ga., at the Georgia World Congress Center, the show was organized by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) to be a different kind of event for agriculture.
"A show like this, that is for the industry and by the industry, has been talked about for many years," explains Charlie O’Brien, vice president of ag services for AEM. "The show aims to truly be the gathering place for agriculture and provide an opportunity to use the trade show as a foundation for the event."
The event kicked off with a Celebration of Agriculture ceremony and reception. To open the show, the Farm Journal Agricultural Foundation presented its first initiative, Farmers Feeding the World, an effort to help end world hunger through the productivity of the American farmer.
Also during the opening ceremonies, the three recipients of the Advocating for Agriculture Award were recognized. More than 12,500 votes were cast in the contest. Schoolteacher Beverly Hall of Baxter, Tenn., received the Ag Woman of the Year award; Ray Bowman of Frankfort, Ky., won the Community Advocate award; and Elliott Marsh, agribusiness program coordinator and instructor at Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro, Ga., won the Next Generation of Ag award.
"The continuation of co-locations and other events taking place in conjunction with Ag Connect has been a big success," O’Brien says. "The footprint is larger this year than it was in our inaugural show and the number of attendees increased as well."
Due to its location and timing, Ag Connect coincided with the Beltwide Cotton Conferences and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual meeting. This diversified and increased the exhibits and attendees at the event. For convenience, AFBF’s Tradeshow Pavilion was located in the same exhibit hall as Ag Connect Expo.
A total of 382 exhibitors spanned 174,500 sq. ft. of exhibit space, which included the integrated AFBF Tradeshow Pavilion. This grew from 312 exhibitors and 167,800 sq. ft. of exhibit space in 2010. The company exhibits at Ag Connect included mini-theaters, classrooms and even a coffee bar.
Despite the winter storm that shut down the Southeast, attendance was strong. There were an estimated 11,500 Ag Connect Expo and AFBF registrants. This also was more than the 2010 event, which had approximately 7,700 registrants. Attendees were from all 50 U.S. states, nine of the 10
Canadian provinces and more than 60 other countries outside the U.S. With a global emphasis, the event showcased international exhibit pavilions from Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Italy. There were 12 trade delegations from overseas: Angola, Cambodia, India, Kenya (including
Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda), Moldova, Mongolia, Nigeria, Romania, Thailand, Zambia and two from South Africa.
Focus on education. One of the building blocks that has helped propel Ag Connect forward is the support it has received from more than 35 sponsoring and supporting organizations, including Farm Journal Media. These companies and groups co-located 20 events along with Ag Connect. Farm Journal Media hosted a Corn College for the South, Corn College Short Course, Beef Today Forum, Dairy Today Forum and Farm Journal Legacy Project Workshop. In all, there were 39 educational sessions that attendees could take advantage of, with subjects ranging from land value trends to today’s high-tech grain systems.
On the show floor, specialized pavilions illustrated the degree of industry involvement. These included the Shortliner pavilion sponsored by the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association, a Safety Zone exhibit pavilion coordinated by Progressive Agriculture Safety Day and sponsored by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and an International Fluid Power Exposition exhibit pavilion sponsored by the National Fluid Power Association.
Ag Connect Expo now begins its biennial cycle and will return to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., in January 2013.
Here’s a snapshot of who exhibited at and attended Ag Connect Expo 2011:
- 382 exhibitors spread out over 174,500 sq. ft.
- 35 sponsoring organizations and 20 co-located events
- 39 educational events and seminars
- More than 11,500 registrants
- Attendees from all 50 states, nine of 10 Canadian provinces and more than 60 other countries.
- 12 trade delegations from overseas