If you haven't already done so, now's the time to mark a big red circle around Feb. 27-28 on your calendar and plan to be at Memphis' Cook Convention Center for the 2004 Mid-South Farm & Gin Show.

This year's show will come just before most farmers kick off the new season, notes Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, which sponsors the show.

It also comes on the heels of a very successful crop year in 2003, coupled with strong markets, which has put growers in an optimistic frame of mind for the new crop season.

“It will offer an opportunity for growers to get the latest outlook on crops and markets from two Ag Update seminars, plus meeting face to face with representatives for a wide range of equipment, products, and services,” Price says.

Hundreds of exhibitors have signed up to be a part of the 52nd annual show, which is the co-sponsored by Delta Farm Press and is the largest indoor agricultural exhibition in the South and the biggest cotton equipment trade show in the nation.

“Last year, our space was increased by approximately 35,000 square feet as a result of the completion of the convention center expansion, and that allowed many exhibitors to increase their space, as well as opening up room for others who hadn't previously been able to get into the show because of space limitations,” Price says. “We're expecting this year's show to be the biggest yet.”

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

The show will continue the perennially popular Ag Update seminars. “We always have a packed house for these sessions,” Price says, “and this year should be no exception as growers try to get as much information as possible on which to base their decisions for the new year.

Among those already lined up for the Friday morning seminar are William “Billy” Dunavant, Memphis cotton merchant, and Richard Bell, Riceland Foods chief executive officer. Their market perspectives and price predictions are a tradition of the show.

Concurrent with the two-day show, the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and its member organizations around the Mid-South will be holding their annual meetings.

Participating are the Arkansas-Missouri Cotton Ginners Association, the Mississippi Cotton Ginners Association, the Tennessee Cotton Ginners Association, and the Louisiana Cotton Ginners Association.

Show attendees will have an opportunity to win cash prizes totaling $4,000 in six drawings held during the show's two-day run. There'll be a drawing for $500 at noon, $500 at 2 p.m., and a grand prize drawing for $1,000 at 4 p.m. each day.

“We hope everyone is making plans to attend this year's show,” Price said. “There'll be lots to see, and Memphis is a great place for a late winter weekend getaway.”

Delta Farm Press will publish the official program for the show, which will be distributed to all its subscribers in the Feb. 13 issue. The program will also be available to all show attendees.