The old and the new will share space at annual farm and ranch showcase

By JOHN SCHMITZ

For the Capital Press

A longtime favorite at the Northwest Agricultural Show will return in full force this year.

More than 140 antique tractors and other pieces of farm equipment will be on display, including a fully restored 1918 Titan tractor and an early 1900s McCormick reaper.

The show isn't closed to those who would also like to display their antique equipment, according to organizers. Those wishing to show off their ancient hardware can call Dave Kromer at 503-580-2291 for more information.

In addition to the antique farm equipment, a wide variety of other displays and seminars will be part of the ag show's agenda this year.

Crop and energy talks, the economy, pesticide classes, job connections -- there will be something for just about anybody during the show, Jan. 26-28.

Held at the Portland Expo Center in northwest Portland, the event this year will be dedicated to Oregon FFA, an organization that is mounting an aggressive recruiting campaign aimed at increasing both membership and the number of member schools throughout the state.

"We've always tried to foster a strong relationship with FFA because we figure that's the next generation of (show) attendees," said Amy Patrick, the show's co-manager.

In addition to presenting the traditional FFA Equipment Contest, which features a restoration and fabrication competition, the show will donate a portion of its Family Day gate receipts to Oregon FFA. Family Day is Wednesday, Jan. 27.

Also on Wednesday, which is typically the show's biggest day, FFA officers are expected to be on hand in the lobbies to answer questions and take donations.

There will be well over 200 exhibitors with $40 million in equipment and products occupying seven acres of floor space at the show this year. Upward of 7,000 people, exclusive of exhibitors and presenters, are expected to attend.

Several organizations will present seminars at the expo center, including the Nut Growers Society of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, the Oregon Horticultural Society, the Oregon Agri-Business Council, Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Association of Nurseries.

In addition to talks on improving energy efficiency and generating energy on the farm, two companies will display small wind turbines, complete with towers and blades.

Willamette Valley growers looking into growing hazelnuts for the first time will have the opportunity to learn more about the crop during panel discussions presented by the Oregon hazelnut industry.

Patrick said that while some of the larger exhibitors have toned down their displays due to the economy, other companies, especially first-time exhibitors, have stepped up to claim the spaces.

Again this year the show will feature its Job Connections service for those looking for work in ag.

People looking for work are asked to bring all the information they'll need, including resumes, to complete an employment application.

Employers with positions to fill are invited to contact the ag show office at 503-769-7120 so space can be reserved in the Job Connections area.

The Northwest Ag Show has come a long way since Patrick's father, Silverton grass seed and Christmas tree grower Jim Heater, presented the first event in 1968 in Columbia Hall at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem.

There were well under 100 exhibitors at that first edition, he recalled.

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