I got into Nashville late Thursday night. Friday morning, I headed over to the Gaylord Opryland complex. Wow, what a facility. There were probably five acres or more of glass roofing, and it felt like a 10-minute walk from my car to the convention center.
I was able to attend the last part of the speech by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. There appeared to be at least 3,000 people in attendance, and I think I heard that over 5,000 were signed up for the Classic.
The trade show had more than 100 booths and I was able to walk around most of it on Friday and early Saturday, but I must admit that I did not get to every booth. It was nice to see several farmers that I had met over the last couple of years and get caught up with what is going on with their farm operation.
Friday afternoon, I attended the learning sessions. Midway through the third session, I noticed some noise on top of the ceiling and about two minutes later, a guy walked in and told us there was a tornado warning and we needed to evacuate to the basement. We headed down to the basement, where there were about 1,000 people. I had downloaded an app to my IPhone and was able to watch the cell pass over our location and get real-time weather updates.
After about an hour, the warning was over and we were able to go back to normal. However, by that time, the day was over.
On Saturday, my partner Nick Houle gave a two-hour seminar on the Top 10 (there were 11, though) mistakes that farmers make in estate planning. Nick and I had met up the night before and we discussed that attendance might be on the low side since this was the last seminar of the event and many people would have already left. We were wrong. Attendance ended up being almost standing-room only. Many great questions were asked, and I think Nick and I answered them all.
All in all, the Commodity Classic is a great event for any farmer to attend, and I look forward to going next year.