Although the Citrus & Specialty Crop Expo was held at a new location this year, the event’s traditions were alive and well. A large crowd of growers and industry members gathered for two days of education and networking at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Aug. 16–17.
The event kicked off with the traditional biscuits and gravy breakfast at the trade show. Next up was a general session featuring keynote speaker Wilton Simpson, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture. Attendees filled the auditorium to hear his talk as well as other presentations on ecosystem services, best management practices, crop insurance, disaster programs and more.
After the general session, growers visited more than 140 vendors at the trade show. The annual gun safe drawing for preregistered growers took place after lunch. A favorite Expo tradition, the drawing is sponsored by Everglades Equipment Group. This year’s lucky winner was citrus grower Scott Mislevy of Mislevy Enterprises Inc. in Zolfo Springs, Florida.
In the afternoon, attendees had the option of earning continuing education units at either the citrus seminars or the vegetable and specialty crop seminars. After the sessions, it was time to head back to the trade show hall for the annual networking reception. Reception sponsors hosted open bars near their booths while showgoers enjoyed a delicious spread of shrimp, fresh fruit and cheese.
The backyard pull-behind smoker raffle sponsored by Hays-LTI, another favorite Expo tradition, took place during the networking reception. The raffle serves as a fundraiser for Florida FFA. Each year, the Florida FFA state officers serve as volunteers at the Expo, so the fundraiser is a way to show appreciation for their hard work and dedication. The winner of the smoker was Mitch Blackman of Ag Nutrients.
The second day of the Expo continued with more citrus and vegetable/specialty crop seminars. Attendees enjoyed a steak lunch and day two of an ice cream social sponsored by Redox. At the end of the show, the winning name was drawn for the annual artwork giveaway. Dana Ritenour of CDF-Ag Sales took home an original framed citrus painting by Florida Highwaymen artist Kelvin Hair.
“AgNet Media is absolutely humbled by the overwhelming support of the sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and attendees who all came together to make the 2023 Citrus & Specialty Crop Expo a reality,” said Robin Loftin, president of AgNet Media. “The new location for the show was met with great positivity, and we look forward to continuing to unite the agriculture industry at future events.”
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Editor of Citrus Industry magazine