Patty Colson has been a volunteer for World Ag Expo, held in Tulare, California, since 1984. With a farm background herself, she has attended every show since it started in the 1960s. This year’s 2012 show marks the 45th anniversary, “Growing World Agriculture,” held February 14-16 at the International Agri-Center show grounds in Tulare, California.

The theme and logo this year include a globe with arrows wrapping around the world, showing how we’re going around the world with our agriculture technology, she explains. “We want to reach out all over the world,” Colson says.

Colson, the chairwoman for this year’s show, explains the five things she can’t do without for a successful and enjoyable show experience.

1. Orange-jacketed volunteers
More than 1,500 volunteers wearing bright orange jackets can be spotted on the grounds greeting people, answering questions or giving directions.

“We have 84 area chairmen who handle the different things that our show offers,” Colson says. She says the show is successful because of the volunteers and staff, all of whom wear orange jackets or vests. These volunteers handle everything from – putting up signs to lining up ticket takers at the gate to arranging people-mover carts and drivers.


2. Exhibitors
Colson says the show started in 1968 at the local fairgrounds with 157 exhibitors. This year the show has close to 1,450 exhibitors. “Those exhibitors have completely filled all of our show spaces so we don’t have any show spaces left over. We’re sold out, and we did so this year earlier than we usually do,” Colson says.

One of the highlights of the show every year is the dairy area. About one-fifth of the show grounds are dedicated to dairy exhibits and products that local and international dairy producers are interested in. Visitors from more than 70 different countries have seen the show in the past years.

3. Good weather
Colson says the show is in February each year because that’s when farmers aren’t so busy and are able to get away.

“Some shows we’ve had rain, and some shows we’ve had great weather,” Colson says. “I can’t predict the weather. They’ve got weather predicted, but at this point, I can’t say. You just have to kind of wait and see.”

Because the weather is unpredictable, the grounds are covered with decomposed granite, so if the weather turns out wet, the water soaks in quickly for a firm surface to walk on.

4. Comfortable clothing
Colson suggests layering clothing so you can peel off extra layers, if the weather turns out clear and warm. “Sometimes in the morning when we get started, it’s kind of cool, and as the day progresses, it gets warmer.”

Volunteers typically wear jeans, jackets and comfortable tennis shoes, which are especially important on the hard granite grounds. “It’s just kind of a farm atmosphere. We’re not dressed up fancy or anything like that. We’re just good-old country people,” Colson says.

5. Our website
“I couldn’t do my work without our website,” Colson says. The show’s website, , can answer questions, including online registration if people want to avoid standing in line, and lists all of the show events and exhibitors.

“To me, our website is one of the biggest tools we have,” says Colson. “Our website has just about any of the answers you need for our show.” PD