Each year, the Four States Agricultural Exposition walks a fine line in an attempt to reach the widest audience possible. This year, organizers are certain theyve found the right balance.
The annual event kicks off Thursday at the Montezuma County Fairgrounds, and the breadth of activities offered promises to reach everyone in attendance.
We stretch to be as much as we can to every part of our constituency, said Elizabeth Testa, executive director of the expo. We want it to be worthwhile and respectful for all producers.
Testa said each year the expo board works hard to provide a well-rounded experience for visitors, with information for producers of every level, from hobbyists to large-scale farmers and ranchers.
It would be very easy to gear it down to the general public and the hobbyists, and theres a real danger in that because we dont want to neglect our areas large producers, Testa said.
Vendors, attractions, clinics and workshops at the annual event cover a wide range of information and interests. Large-scale producers especially can benefit from the vendors present at the expo, Testa said.
We probably help the large-scale producers the most on our product sale side, she said. We will have four large implement dealers coming as well as well pumps and generator type equipment. We offer a lot for the large producers.
Last year, the wide variety of events offered at the expo was successful in drawing large crowds to the venue.
We calculated attendance last year at about 14,000, Testa said. We had our best year, and we were really pleasantly surprised, given the economy. When there is a downturn, people get a lot more interested in growing their own vegetables and buying locally. They are also interested in coming to a show that is relatively inexpensive for a family to participate in. We gave people what they needed in that economy, and we are going to do that this year, and more so.
This years expo promises to showcase many of the favorite clinicians and events from previous years, in addition to some new features guaranteed to interest the community, according to Testa.
Among the features returning to the event will be the bull and heifer sale, a popular feature for the past two years. Organizers expect a larger number of animals in the sale than in previous years.
Crowd-favorite clinicians will return, including horsemanship instructors Curt Pate and Moses Woodson, and Jason Patrick, who will present his Rescued to Ride colt starting program for the second year.
The horse programs will be really strong this year, Testa said.
New to the expo this year is the Ag Adventure Program. A living exhibition of the agricultural components of the local region, the exhibition will be open for all visitors throughout the expo, but will host a unique program for school children on Friday, March 18.
We want to connect the children of today to their food and fiber sources, Testa said. That is critical, and it is part of our livestock judging and rodeo camp and beef show. It is just really important to engage that generation.
The expo also will feature a Grange program designed to reach out to farmers and ranchers. The program will include workshops on grafting, proper equipment and marketing challenges.
On Saturday, area producers are invited to attend an open forum with Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar.
Overall, the expo serves to connect the Four Corners community with the agriculture producers at the heart of the region.
Our mission is twofold, Testa said. One is to promote innovation in the agriculture industry for ag producers themselves. Second is to better connect people to their food and fiber sources. Thats pretty much what we shape everything around.
The ag expo will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, March 17, through Saturday, March 19, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, March 20. Tickets can be purchased at the gate. Parking is free and admission is $5 for adults. Youths 15 and under get in free. Four-day passes cost $15.
For information on the Four States Agricultural Exposition, visit www.fourstatesagexpo.com or call 247-0097.
Reach Kimberly Benedict at [email protected]