Organizers aim to increase size, scope of regional event
By ERICK PETERSON
For the Capital Press
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Organizers of the Yakima Ag Expo say they are gearing the event toward a broader agricultural audience.
"If we can get to the point where we can get the hay growers, the potato growers, the apple growers, the cherry growers and everybody together in one big show, that's where we'd like to be," said John Riel, who owns New Holland dealerships in Yakima, Wenatchee and Sunnyside.
He is one of many exhibitors planning to attend the 2013 Yakima Ag Expo, which will be Jan. 10-11 at the SunDome in Yakima.
Organizers of the event share Riel's enthusiasm for increasing the size and scope of the expo, said Kelly Gasseling, market manager for Radio Yakima, which hosts the expo.
She said the expo, now in its fourth year, has been growing. It now draws 1,500 attendees. In addition, it has achieved the support of organizations including local Farm Bureaus and businesses.
Bud Clary Toyota, Burrows Tractor, Commercial Tire, Foremost Pump and Husch & Husch are all sponsors.
Ryan Green, Simplot purchasing manager for the Yakima Valley, said he is looking forward to the seminars and activities at the expo.
He said he is excited about how the event has been able to combine discussions of politics, economics, technology and science. At the same time, it has given area producers practical benefits, such as the opportunity to earn pesticide continuing education credits.
"In years past, we have talked about tree fruit, because that is our (Simplot's) market in the Yakima Valley," he said, "but we are opening that up this year." Hops, corn, hay and several other crops will also be addressed.
The expo has also grown through incorporating another event. This year's expo will be held with the 25th Annual Hoptoberfest, an annual gala and fundraiser for the American Hop Museum in Toppenish.
There will be a meeting of the Hop Growers of Washington, which will include discussions on hop powdery mildew and mites. Experts representing the USDA, Oregon State University and Washington State University are scheduled to speak.
The event also features the announcement of 2013 Aggie Award winners. The awards honor people, businesses and organizations that have contributed to agriculture and local communities.