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Pasco convention gets hands-on


Outdoor arena reserved for test drives of tractors


By MATTHEW WEAVER


Capital Press


The Pasco REAL AG 2011 Convention and Trade Show takes place from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 4 and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 5 at the TRAC Center in Pasco, Wash.


Shane Johnson, event manager, said the event gets agriculture industry members together to view new exhibits and updated educational information.


"It's a place for farmers and ranchers from all different commodity groups to come together and get ideas on how to become more efficient," he said.


This year's event includes speaker Matt Henderson, CEO of Pacific Crest Benefits, on the effect health care reform will have on businesses. A talk on the fuel outlook for 2011 will also be offered. There will be more than 100 exhibitors.


The Pasco Chamber of Commerce event began more than 25 years ago as the Pasco Farm Forum, later the Pasco Ag Show.


This year, the event includes a "Ride and Drive," sponsored by ADO Equipment. Large-equipment exhibitors will have the opportunity to demonstrate their wares in an outdoor arena.


"Instead of guys just climbing in and looking at the cab, they'll actually get to drive the tractor," Johnson said. "It's a great opportunity for them to see and feel firsthand all the new technology."


The event also boasts a FFA scholarship competition. High school seniors will vie for two $1,000 scholarships at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 4. The students, who will study agriculture in college, will deliver 10-minute presentations on an issue affecting agriculture.


Johnson hopes to have at least 3,500 people in attendance.


His goal is that both exhibitors and attendees leave feeling satisfied, and that the event continues to grow, especially with future generations of farmers.


"One of the concerns is that youth aren't choosing agriculture as a career," he said. "We'd like to get more involvement at the high school and FFA level. We would like to expand the scholarship program. With that, we'll need more industry support, but I think this year is a step in the right direction."


In the long term, Johnson hopes to continue the event's progress and eventually see the program become one of the area's premier offerings.


"We want to be the regional ag and educational forum event," he said.


Cost is $5 at the door for both days. Pesticide credits in English and Spanish are offered Jan. 5.




Online


Pasco REAL AG 2011 Convention and Trade Show: http://pascorealag.com



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