Six decades ago, when the first Mid-South Farm and Gin Show was held, nobody probably gave much thought to the future of the event — that it would survive into another century and grow to nearly 500 exhibits, featuring equipment, technology, and services that couldn’t have been dreamed of on the tail end of the era of hand labor and machinery and materials now considered primitive.
Yet, 60 years later, the show thrives, drawing thousands of the Mid-South’s top farmers and their families to Memphis each year to see the latest and greatest that agribusiness has to offer, to have an opportunity to get up-to-the-minute information on market outlooks and industry happenings.
From a cotton/ginning-oriented show, it has now evolved to encompass all major crops grown in the region, adjusting yearly to the changes in production that farmers have been free to make following the removal of allotments and quotas.
One of the most dramatic of those changes came in recent years with the wide scale shift to corn, toppling King Cotton from his century-plus throne, reducing acres to historic lows.
Though not quite so dramatic as the switch to corn or soybeans, this year’s big change will see a big jump in peanut acres as Mid-South farmers move to take advantage of the high prices that resulted from a drought-shortened crop in 2011. The interest in peanuts as an alternative enterprise was evident in the large crowd attending the special seminar held at this year’s show, and in the wide range of peanut equipment and products offered by exhibitors.
The show itself made a big change this year. After decades of a paper-based manual registration system, the transition was made to electronic registration — a process now used by almost every major trade show in the U.S. As with any transition, there were kinks, and some showgoers were unhappy with the lines and waits that resulted at times the first morning as the new system was put into action.
But, adjustments were quickly made and the next day things went more smoothly. Next year, with all this year’s show attendees already in the system, it will be even easier. As more people take the easy route and register in advance online, or use their smart phones to register at the show, getting name badges will be a breeze.
The acceptance of today’s technology has certainly been evident in the extensive use of the Farm and Gin Show Mobile App for smart phones and other devices. The App, launched at the 2011 show and upgraded this year, gave attendees immediate access to a wide array of information about the show and the products and services being offered.
All that aside, though, the show remains much like a big family reunion — an opportunity for those in the fraternity that is agriculture to get together, share experiences, learn, and have a good time.
Thanks for coming to the show.