Donning boots is recommended for those visiting today’s grand opening (Feb. 9) of the 43rd annual World Ag Expo at the International Agri-Center (IAC) in Tulare, Calif.

As of Monday afternoon, the WAE grounds were slightly muddy but were in good condition. Tuesday’s weather forecast for Tulare is a 50-50 chance of rain.

The world’s largest farm show on 2.6 million square feet of land (about 60 acres) runs Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

About 100,000 people from about 70 countries are expected to check out the largest farm show in the world. About 1,600 exhibitors spit-polished their wares Monday and moved the last displays into show mode ready to share the latest advancements in global agriculture.

“World Ag Expo is not a show room kind of event,” Jerry Sinift told reporters Monday. Sinift is the WAE-IAC chief executive officer.

“This is a down-in-the-dirt, roll-up-your-sleeves working show where you have an opportunity to network about how to become more productive in farming operations.”

Bernie Cargle, 2010 Expo chairman, encourages farmers to come witness agriculture’s latest and greatest.

“Farmers find it pretty hard to buy out of a catalogue,” Cargle said. “At Expo you see the actual equipment and services rather than just look at a picture.”

World Ag Expo tickets are $12 at the gate.

Attendees who register for World Ag Expo collectors’ badges at one of the three onsite registration centers will receive complimentary admission to the West Coast Nationals on the same day, plus be automatically entered to win a Yamaha Rhino 700 FI 4x4, free fuel for a year from Fleet Card Fuels, and the one-year use of a Massey Ferguson 2680 HD.

Visitors are encouraged to avoid traffic snarls and parking lot mud by utilizing park-and-ride shuttle service between five off-site locations and the show grounds.

Shuttle services run every 15-20 minutes from the Tulare locations and every 30 minutes from the Visalia location. Locations include the Preferred Outlets at Tulare (Prosperity and Highway 99); Tulare County Fairgrounds; Tulare Airport (Avenue 20 and Highway 99); Mid-Valley Cotton Gin (Cartmill Avenue and Highway 99); and Visalia First Assembly of God Church (Caldwell and Akers Avenue), Visalia.

New this year is the expanded seminar center located at Expo Lane between R and S Streets in the south showground area. Sixty-three free seminars will be held at the seminar center and the World Ag Women pavilion.

Located near the seminar center is the popular Top 10 New Products area where the latest and most innovative products at Expo 2010 will be showcased.

Also new for 2010 is the Forage Challenge, sponsored by Mycogen Seeds.

About $18,000 in prizes was awarded Monday to nine Forage Challenge winners (three per category) selected from 39 entries submitted from seven Western states.

Winners in the alfalfa hay category include: Kellie Hinman, Lazy 2K Livestock, Wheatland, Wyo. (first place); Dave Roberti, Roberti Ranch, Loyalton, Calif. (second); and David King, King Productions, Malin, Ore. (third).

Corn silage winners include: Kelly Callahan, 1 Royal Turf, Royal City, Wash. (first place); David Evers, Ever May Farms, Grove, Ore. (second); and Jake Weststyn, Weststyn Dairy, Linden, Calif. (third).

Brown mid-rib corn silage winners include: Nelson Faria, Faria Dairy, Royal City, Wash. (first); Ray Robinson, Moo Mtn. Dairy, Burley, Idaho (second); and Greg Fernandes, Fernoak Dairy, Tulare, Calif.

The International Agri-Center is located in California’s Central Valley at 4450 South Laspina Street, Tulare, Calif., 93274. The center is 45 miles south of Fresno and 60 miles north of Bakersfield, just off Highway 99.

For more information, visit www.worldagexpo.com.

email: cblake@farmpress.com