Citrus & Specialty Crop Expo: The Show Must Go On!

Josh McGillCitrus Expo

The trade show floor at the Citrus & Specialty Crop Expo is always alive with activity.

A big part of any grower’s job is overcoming obstacles. This year, AgNet Media met with its own unique obstacle in organizing the Citrus & Specialty Crop Expo. Less than two days before setting up for the event, the company was informed that the building at the Lee Civic Center that houses the Expo’s general session and citrus seminars was unusable.

But the show must go on! So, the Expo management team quickly sprang into action to secure an airconditioned tent large enough to comfortably accommodate the seminar attendees. Fortunately, the program went off without a hitch, and the weather cooperated beautifully by keeping the tent dry.

Seminars included a general session, a citrus program, and talks for vegetable and specialty crop growers.

Vegetable and specialty crop seminars were once again offered in the Davidson House at the Lee Civic Center. The two-day educational event took place in North Fort Myers, Florida. Seminar attendees had the opportunity to earn multiple continuing education units toward Florida’s restricted-use pesticide license and the Certified Crop Advisor designation.

Besides a first-rate educational program, the Expo gives growers the chance to meet with key vendors that provide needed services and supplies. The large trade show had 160 exhibitors.

Cheryl Joyce of Deep South Nurseries, pictured with her son Elijah, took home the $1,000 cash prize for completing her exhibitor prize card.

A highlight of the trade show is the annual networking reception, which includes a fundraiser for Florida FFA. The raffle prize, a pull-behind backyard smoker, was donated by Hays-LTI. This year’s winner was Frank Miele, chief operating officer of Magna-Bon. Having already won the smoker at a previous Expo, he graciously donated the prize to the Highlands County Citrus Growers Association so it could use the smoker for its own fundraiser.

A raffle for a backyard smoker, donated by Hays-LTI, serves as a fundraiser for Florida FFA.

New this year at the Expo was the exhibitor prize card drawing. Grower attendees could enter the contest by visiting the booths of 16 select vendors and getting their card stamped at each booth. Cheryl Joyce of Deep South Nurseries in North Fort Myers was thrilled to take home the $1,000 cash prize.

One of the top traditions at the Expo that growers look forward to every year is the annual gun safe giveaway sponsored by Everglades Equipment Group. Only growers who preregister for the event are eligible to win the valuable prize. Austin Pell of Pell Citrus and Nursery was the lucky winner. Although hundreds of grower names are entered into the drawing every year, this was Pell’s second time winning the annual gun safe giveaway. He won the prize in 2017.

Another drawing, which was open to all Expo attendees and exhibitors, was for a lovely citrus painting by Highwaymen artist Kelvin Hair. Christopher Vincent, University of Florida horticultural sciences assistant professor, scored the prize.

Christopher Vincent won the Highwaymen painting by Kelvin Hair.

“The Citrus & Specialty Crop Expo is truly a team effort,” said Robin Loftin, president of AgNet Media. “It would not be possible without the support of attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and speakers. I would also like to acknowledge and thank the seminar planning committee (see sidebar), Florida FFA officers who volunteer at the event, and my terrific AgNet Media team.”

With breakfast, lunch, a networking reception and an ice cream social all included, nobody leaves Expo hungry!
About the Author

Tacy Callies

Editor of Citrus Industry magazine

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