By GEOFF PARKS
For the Capital Press
Over 90 percent of last year's vendors will return to the 12th annual edition of the Willamette Valley Ag Expo in Albany, an event producer Scott Ingalls calls the "barometer for the ag industry in the Northwest."
The Nov. 13-15 expo will be held at the Linn County Fair and Expo Center and includes a diverse mix of 140-plus ag-related suppliers, services and equipment dealers along with its traditional free CORE certification training.
Several of the vendors have new product lines and equipment "to help the farm industry cope with costs and production demands," Ingalls said. "I'm seeing quite a few companies adding equipment lines or bringing more specific equipment in response to the changes in farming practices in the Willamette Valley and all over the Northwest."
The expo began in 2000 primarily as an industry promotional tool, but focus shifted to include training and educational opportunities. A percentage of the proceeds from the three-day affair are used to award scholarships through a Willamette Valley Ag Association program administered by the Oregon Student Access Commission.
Last year, five $1,500 scholarships were issued. For the 2012-13 academic year, $7,000 in awards were disbursed to four Oregon State University agriculture students.
"This show is owned and operated by the exhibitors," said Jill Ingalls, Scott's wife and manager of the Willamette Valley Ag Association. "The show exists for the exhibitors, and the WVAA exists to create the show."
"(The expo) has been incredibly successful because the board hasn't changed," Scott Ingalls added. "Consistency in staffing is key, and so is the fact that the board has a vested interest in the event. (Exhibitors) are not competitors; we're all here to make a living and to show off the new widgets in the industry.
"We're all family here."
The Antique Farm Equipment Show will feature over 70 pieces of ag equipment, implements and other items in the Cascade Building. The show, always a popular draw, has been a staple of the expo for a decade, Scott Ingalls said.
The Willamette Valley Ag Expo will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 13-15 at the Linn County Fair and Expo Center in Albany. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Admission is $4 (price includes $2 discount on the featured lunch), and parking is free.