There'll be something different about this year's Mid-South Farm & Gin Show: It will follow a season in which growers had that rare combination of excellent crops and good prices.

“We're seeing a lot more optimism,” says Tim Price, manager for the 52nd annual show, to be held Feb. 27-28 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

“Cotton yields set all-time records in many areas. Ginners had a good year. Yields for other crops were good, too, and higher prices added frosting to the cake. Growers are looking forward to the 2004 season.”

The Memphis show, expected to be the biggest ever, offers an excellent opportunity for growers to see firsthand the newest equipment and products, says Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, which stages the event each year. Delta Farm Press is co-sponsor of the show.

More than 400 exhibitors have signed up for the '04 show, which is the largest indoor exhibition of agricultural products, equipment, and services in the Mid-South, and the largest cotton equipment trade show in the nation.

This will mark the second show since the completion of the expansion of the Cook Convention Center, a project that added another 35,000 square feet of exhibit space.

“Before that, we'd had a waiting list of additional exhibitors and companies that wanted to expand their exhibit space,” Price says. “Last year, we were able to accommodate them, greatly adding to the scope of the show.”

In addition to the exhibit-filled two-day show, the popular Ag Update Seminars will be continued this year.

Two leading authorities on cotton and grain market trends will present their outlooks for 2004.

At the Friday morning seminar, William “Billy” Dunavant, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the nation's largest cotton merchandising firm, and Richard “Dick” Bell, president and chief executive officer of Riceland Foods, will speak in the lobby auditorium of the convention center.

“Billy Dunavant's analysis of the cotton situation is a perennial feature of the show,” Price says. “Everyone always looks forward to hearing what he has to say about cotton's prospects.

“Dick Bell has been with us many times, also, and his long experience with markets and government programs helps him provide a unique perspective of the rice, soybean, and wheat markets.”

Other speakers for the Friday and Saturday morning seminars will be announced later.

“We hope everyone is making plans to come to Memphis and take part in our big show,” Price says

“This will be a great opportunity for Mid-South growers to have some one-on-one time with representatives of these companies, and to get up-to-date information on markets, the outlook for Delta crops, and new developments in the cotton industry.” The Southern Cotton Ginners Association and its member organizations will also be holding their annual meetings during the week of the show. They include the Arkansas-Missouri Cotton Ginners Association, the Mississippi Cotton Ginners Association, the Tennessee Cotton Ginners Association, and the Louisiana Cotton Ginners Association.

Most association meetings and events, including an honors reception/banquet, will be held at the historic Peabody Hotel.

The annual meeting of the association will be Thursday, Feb. 26, at 1:30 p.m. at the Peabody. Delta Farm Press will publish the official program for the show, which will be distributed to all subscribers in the Feb.13 issue and to the Alabama circulation of the Feb. 11 Southeast Farm Press. The program will also be available to all show attendees.