Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference Produces Excitement, Big Crowd

Web AdminFruit, Georgia, Vegetables

By Clint Thompson

The return of the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference yielded a huge crowd and excitement among farmers reuniting again for the first time in two years.

Chris Butts, executive vice president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, said on Friday the attendance was about 2,700 with pre-registration between 1,600 and 1,700.

Fruit and Vegetable Conference
Photo Credit: Frank Giles ~ Attendees listening during an educational session

“Our attendance numbers are almost exactly on par with 2020. The trade show is full. The classes are full. We’re thrilled,” Butts said. “We’ve had a lot of on-site registrations. Our greatest fear was that we would have a lot of people that had registered but just wouldn’t show up. That is not the case.”

The conference convened in-person in Savannah, Georgia this year for the first time since 2020. COVID-19 forced last year’s convention to be held virtually. But Butts stresses the importance of this event returning to an in-person format.

“We’ve got so much going on from a regulatory and legislative standpoint, with everything from the vaccine mandate, and literally we had a class today, talking about that mandate and one of the presenters was watching the Supreme Court case in which they were deciding it. You can’t get anymore timely,” Butts said. “It’s been great from that standpoint. Then the other issues, everything from supply chain issues to product shortages, people are just connecting here. You can just tell some of these folks may not have seen each other for two years. You can accomplish more in person face to face than you can over Zoom. It’s been fantastic. The energy’s just great.

“It’s a relationship industry. You do business with your customers. You do business with your suppliers. That loyalty and long-standing business relationships turn into more than just business relationships. Bringing those folks together in person is critical.”

Fruit and Vegetable Conference
Photo Credit: Frank Giles ~ UGA Extension weed specialist Stanley Culpepper speaking