The Mid-South Farm & Gin Show will start its second half century with the biggest show in its history and expanded facilities at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

“Essentially, it'll be a totally new show from the standpoint of layout and people flow,” says Lee Todd, show manager and executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, which stages the event, scheduled this year for Feb. 28 to March 1. Delta Farm Press co-sponsors the show.

“We've been waiting three years now for construction work on the convention center expansion to be completed. Now that it's done, we have another 35,000 square feet of space, which allows us to configure the exhibits layout more effectively.”

Because of space limitations the past few years, Todd has had a waiting list of people wanting exhibit space.

“This year, we'll finally be able to accommodate these new exhibits — plus, some companies will be increasing the amount of space for their exhibits.”

Already a sell-out, the show will cover in excess of 200,000 square feet and will be the largest indoor show of farm and gin equipment in the South and the largest cotton equipment trade show in the nation.

“We hope everyone will circle the dates on his calendar and make plans to come to Memphis for the show,” Todd says. “Bring some comfortable walking shoes, because there's going to be a lot of space to cover.”

He notes that food service will also be expanded and made more convenient so showgoers can break for refreshments and lunch.

Thousands of farmers, agribusiness representatives, and others attend the yearly event to see the displays of agricultural products and equipment, and to chat with representatives of the various companies.

Showgoers will find a convention center full of new equipment, as manufacturers continue improving and expanding their product lines. Most major agri-chemical and seed companies will also be represented at the event, offering growers the latest information about their products.

“It's really going to be an outstanding program, that will provide growers with helpful information in making plans for the 2003 cropping season,” says Todd.

“These are very challenging times for agriculture,” says Todd, and farmers attending the show will have an opportunity to get the latest news on agricultural issues and crop outlooks.

The yearly Ag Update informational sessions will feature the following speakers:

Friday, Feb. 28: Bobby Green, Alabama ginner-warehouseman and chairman-elect of the National Cotton Council, who will give an update on Council programs and legislative efforts; Richard E. Bell, president and chief executive officer of Riceland Foods, who will give the outlook for rice, soybeans, and wheat; and William “Billy” Dunavant, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Dunavant Enterprises, who will present his annual cotton outlook.

Saturday, March 1: O. A. Cleveland Jr., former Mississippi State University economist and an international authority on cotton marketing, will give his analysis of the cotton sector; and Barry Worsham, president of Cotton Incorporated, will present an overview of current programs of the producer-funded promotion and marketing organization. A third speaker is to be announced.

The doors for the big show open at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday and close at 5 p.m. Friday, 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

Member associations of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association are holding their annual meetings in conjunction with the Farm & Gin Show. Headquarters for the ginner events will be the Peabody Hotel.

The official program for the show, which includes information about exhibitors, things to do, places to eat, along with stories and photos related to Mid-South ginning and agricultural production, will be mailed with the Feb. 21 issue of Delta Farm Press and to Alabama subscribers in the Feb. 19 issue of Southeast Farm Press.

“We're grateful to everyone for their support over the years and for helping to make the show such a success,” Todd says.

“It's a tribute to all the leaders of our association who've had a hand in guiding the show along, to all the hundreds of companies that have been faithful exhibitors over the years, and to Mid-South farmers and everyone connected with agriculture for helping to make our show one of the best in the nation.”