Thousands of farmers and their families, Extension and university folks, members of the agribusiness community and the just plain curious will descend on the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis this weekend for the 63rd annual Mid-South Farm and Gin Show.
It’s one last shot of adrenaline to get everyone ready for the 2015 planting season, one last chance to kick the tires of new equipment models, new technologies, products and services.
As as a veteran of 25 consecutive gin shows, I know the experience can be overwhelming, so I’m offering my Top Five Tips for making the most of your Mid-South Farm and Gin Show experience.
1. Take Care of Your Wheels. The gin show exhibit meanders through multiple show halls and up and down escalators and stairs, so wear comfortable walking shoes. There is a little bit of everything for everybody here, from puppy giveaways to equipment demonstrations. There are arts and crafts, advice, snacks and giveaways. You’ll cover a lot of ground to see every exhibit, but it’s well worth it.
2. Don’t Snooze on Seminars. Farm income is projected significantly lower for 2015. We have a new farm bill that many are worried may fall short in providing an adequate safety net for farmers. Prices for many commodities are forecast near or below the cost of production. Ag updates and seminars throughout the gin show could provide you with the information you need to devise a practical marketing plan. You can’t afford to miss a single one.
3. Dress Warmly — or Not. Weather for the gin show is utterly unpredictable. During the gin show, I have walked down a balmy Beale in short sleeves one year and steeled myself against frigid winds whipping down Main St. the next. A few years back, temperatures soared into the mid-70s on Friday, and it flat out snowed Saturday. So be prepared for anything.
4. Do the Bluff. After show hours, there’s plenty to do around Memphis. The Cotton Museum, at 84 S. Front, is having its 4th annual Season Starter Party, Friday night ($48 per person). You can catch the Grizzlies play the Clippers Friday night, or take a tour of one of the many museums in the area. Just remember that the Downtown Trolley is down for repairs this year. Alternate service for the trolley lines will be provided through shuttles on MATA's new green hybrid electric buses.
5. Calories? What Calories? It’s Memphis. Do not fail to partake of pulled pork plates, ribs and BBQ sandwiches. A trip to Memphis is incomplete without a lip-smacking, finger-licking BBQ experience, whether it’s Corky’s inside the gin show or the Rendezvous, Blues City Cafe, Central BBQ or Pig on Beale outside the venue.