SALEM — After a one-year hiatus, the Northwest Ag Show marked its return in 2019 to Salem, Ore.

An estimated 3,554 people attended the three-day event Jan. 16-18 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, featuring educational seminars, a trade show and the first Agricultural Career Expo hosted by Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching students the importance of farming and ranching.

The Northwest Ag Show started 50 years ago in Salem, though for the last 45 years it was held at the Portland Expo Center. The EO Media Group, which publishes 11 newspapers in Oregon and southwest Washington — including the Capital Press — took over management of the show in 2017.

Faced with difficulties attracting vendors to Portland, the publishing company decided to suspend the 2018 Northwest Ag Show and move it back to its original home in Salem for 2019. Michael Keith, show director and marketing manager for EO Media Group, said the change of location drew positive feedback from exhibitors and attendees.

“Overall, our exhibitors and attendees were pleased with the show,” Keith said. “We had great conversations about how this year’s show went, and how to do even better next year.”

More than 120 vendors were on hand at the fairgrounds, including farm equipment manufacturers such as Kubota and suppliers such as Coastal Farm & Ranch, which also sponsored the show. Seminars on Jan. 16 and 17 covered a range of topics, from agriculture technology to weather and economic forecasts.

Harvest Capital, an agricultural real estate lender based in Canby, Ore., served as the show’s title sponsor. Brian Field, founder and president, said he was happy with how the show came together, and is looking forward to next year.

“For the first year coming back to life, it was good,” Field said.

Harvest Capital has participated in 25-plus Northwest Ag Shows, Field said. He echoed the opinion that having the show in Salem, rather than in Portland, was a better overall fit.

“It felt like it was more a part of agriculture,” Field said. “It was a better engaged ag show.”

Field said organizers will meet in the next week or two to discuss ways to improve the 2020 edition of the show, though he added, “There’s nothing here except good marks from us.”

Oregon Aglink, a nonprofit volunteer membership organization that promotes Oregon agriculture, held its annual membership meeting at the ag show, while Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom, or AITC, also held its first Agricultural Career Expo, bringing in roughly 175 students from four Salem-area high schools to learn about different careers in the field of agriculture.

Jessica Jansen, executive director of Oregon AITC, said students were able to interact with vendors at the trade show, as well as engage with a panel of 20 agriculture professionals with diverse roles in farming, marketing, machinery, finance and other fields.

“We were really trying to get a good subset of (careers) represented,” Jansen said. “I think it went great. I was thrilled, for a first-time event.”

Jansen said she hopes to make the expo an annual event for local high school students, and was pleased to partner with the Northwest Ag Show.

“If Northwest Ag Show is up for the partnership, I think it works really well,” she said.

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