Where else can you see the latest ag equipment, get info on a host of products, attend a knockout fashion show, hear forecasts for 2003 crops, and stroll through hundreds of agricultural exhibits ranging from A to Z?

The Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, that's where. And it's just three weeks away — Feb. 28 and March 1 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

This year's exhibition will be far and away the largest in its 51-year history.

“It's going to be a real eye-opener,” says Lee Todd, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, the organization that sponsors the show. “The completion of the expansion of the Memphis Cook Convention Center gave us an additional 35,000 square feet of space — which is completely booked. We'll have over 200,000 square feet of exhibits, in a completely revamped floor plan that allows for a more efficient traffic flow.

“For anyone who hasn't been to the show in the last two or three years, it's going to be quite a contrast to shows of the past. Even for those who've attended every year, it will be markedly different. We've got a lot of new exhibitors and a lot of long-time exhibitors who've substantially increased the size of their displays.

“The added diversity in Mid-South crops is also reflected in our show, with more exhibits featuring such things as grain handling equipment, grain dryers, and grain carts.

“We hope everyone is making plans to come to Memphis and help us celebrate this big step forward for our show.”

More than 450 exhibitors have signed up to be a part of the 51st annual show, the largest indoor agricultural exhibition in the South and the largest cotton equipment show in the nation.

It is co-sponsored by Delta Farm Press, which also publishes the official show program.

“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.

“There'll be a lot of ground to cover in this year's show, so we urge everyone to bring some comfortable walking shoes and make plans to see everything that's offered.”

This year's event will include the popular Ag Update seminars. Here's the lineup for those sessions:

Friday, Feb. 28, 8:30 a.m.

  • Richard Bell, Riceland Foods chief executive officer, will present the market outlook for grains.
  • Bobby Greene, the new National Cotton Council chairman, will provide an update on council activities.
  • Memphis cotton merchant William Dunavant will give his annual forecast for U.S. and world cotton.

Saturday, March 1, 8:30 a.m.

  • Berrye Worsham, president of Cotton Incorporated, will discuss how the producer-funded research and promotion organization helps U.S. growers.
  • O. A. Cleveland Jr., cottonexperts.com, will discuss cotton economics for 2003.
  • A Senate Agriculture Committee staff member will present a farm legislation update.

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.

At the annual meeting of the association Thursday, Feb. 27, at 1:30 p.m. in the Venetian Room at the Peabody, speakers will include: Rick Holder, president, National Cotton Ginners Association; Jerry Marshall, Cargill Cotton Inc., and Jerry Gilbert, Mississippi State University.

Delta Farm Press will publish the official program for the show, which will be distributed to all subscribers in the Feb. 21 issue and to the Alabama circulation of the Feb. 19 Southeast Farm Press.

The program will also be available to all show attendees.