Growth was the element that trademarked the Alabama-Florida Peanut Trade Show held February 7, 2013, in Dothan as it saw its highest attendance since the show’s inception in 2006.
"Focus on the Future" was the theme of the day as more than 650 attendees interacted and networked with approximately 75 exhibitors throughout two buildings representing farming interests from chemicals to equipment sales.
Teresa Mays, communication specialist for the Alabama Peanut Producers Association and trade show coordinator, said the show’s success was largely thanks to the efforts of the 12 volunteers who worked tirelessly to make the event a reality.
"We have the growers’ interests at heart," she said. "We like to hear from them, as well about what they’d like to see in the upcoming years."
The staff’s desire to serve the growers and use suggestions to magnify the quality of the trade show has nurtured its growth from the seven exhibitors it started with 12 years ago to what it is today.
The goal of the AL-FL Peanut Trade Show is to educate growers and help them wisely map out their planting strategy.
"We try to help growers see what is going to be happening in the new year by giving them a chance to learn what’s new as far as peanuts," Mays said. "Getting updated right before planting season helps them be well-prepared for the upcoming seasons."
Held at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds, the day began on a relaxed note at 8:30 a.m. as farmers and agricultural personnel browsed the exhibit, learning from and socializing with the various representatives.
During lunch, APPA President Carl Sanders led the organization’s annual meeting as it elected members to its Board of Directors for 3-year terms.
The following members were re-elected: Tom Corcoran, Barbour and Russell counties; Charles Turner, Geneva County; Jimmy Royce Helms, Geneva County; and Sammy Gibbs, Escambia County. New to the board was Billy Hixon, representing Pike and Crenshaw counties.
In line with the day’s future-focused theme, agriculture updates and education composed the afternoon’s breakout sessions. These sessions are especially important for the peanut producers in the crowd.
"Our growers have to take into consideration now what they’re going to be doing as far as planning," Mays said. "They like to know what is going to be down the road for them."
During this time, attendees received a marketing update from National Peanut Research Lab Leader Marshall Lamb. Bob Redding of The Redding Firm in Washington, D.C., also updated growers on legislative issues including the state of the Farm Bill.
A production and seed seminar led by Ricky Hartley, manager of the Golden Peanut Company, wrapped up the day’s guest speakers.
Awarding of door prizes valued at over $25,000 concluded the day’s events.
Randy Griggs, APPA executive director, said the day was a success. While he was pleased with every aspect of the event, one section of the trade show held his attention for a few extra beats.
"To me, the peanut machinery was especially interesting this year," Griggs said. "The show is always good, though, and this year was no different."
Mays attributes the success of the show to cooperation.
"We’ve accomplished great things by working together," she said, referring to the collaborative efforts of the APPA, the Florida Peanut Producers Association, and the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center.
Chris Parker, Mays’ right-hand man and representative of the Wiregrass Research and Extension Center, has a unique perspective on the trade show as he is both a volunteer and a grower.
"Having it at this time of year, it’s more of a relaxed time for growers," Parker said. "[This] makes farmers more receptive to take the time to listen to each vendor … and gives you a chance to find ways to make a little extra money or spend money more wisely."
Sanders, also a peanut grower, valued the networking aspect of the trade show.
"You get to meet someone you haven’t met before and learn about the products and services they may be offering," he said.
Despite differing outlooks, each attendee of the 2013 AL-FL Peanut Trade Show walked away from the event more knowledgeable and prepared to face the coming year.
Mays was very pleased with this year’s show and is already anticipating 2014.
"There’s nothing but blue skies ahead for us and we are really looking forward to next year’s events."
To learn more about APPA or how to get involved with next year’s trade show contact Teresa Mays at 334-792-6482.
Maggie Walsh is a freelance writer from Troy.,