The 2011 World Ag Expo (WAE) kicks off Tuesday with a three-day (Feb. 8-10) feast of technology, exhibits, concerts, seminars, farm tours, and more at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, Calif.

“I think we’ll have a record-setting show in attendance and exhibitors,” predicts Lee Coito, 2011 World Ag Expo chairman. “Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothes.”

Excellent weather is expected to greet the expected 100,000 attendees and nearly 1,600 exhibitors to Expo, the world’s largest agricultural exposition.

Expo hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. General admission is $12 per person.

The theme of the 44th annual Expo is “Tools for Agri-Business,” a myriad of technology designed to make agriculture profitable.

Innovations to be showcased include the WAE Top-10 New Products including the air filter blaster, water-activated ag flag, biodegradable hydraulic oil, the Trimble connected farm, and others. Attendees can see the Top-10 Products and the Honorable Mention Products at the New Product Center located at Expo Lane and Q Street on the fairgrounds.

Expo is where agriculture can kick the tires and ask specific questions about equipment, supplies, and services.

“Major companies often bring several different products for people to see at Expo where if you go to a dealer the product availability is often limited,” Coito says.

The Expo show grounds includes a massive 2.6 million square feet of space. Coito says, “If a person visited every single Expo exhibitor for one minute they’d never get to the last exhibit during the three-day show.”

Among the many Expo upgrades this year include the 22,500-square-foot Pavilion D dedicated to beef and livestock and related-equipment demonstrations. Upgrades to the 70,000 square-foot Farm Credit Dairy Center building include a concrete floor and metal walls for the dairy exhibits.

Also new for 2011 is a first-ever concert series, kicking off Tuesday with CMA Male Vocalist of the Year Blake Shelton. The concert is a fund-raiser for a new International Agri-Center initiative to support and promote California agriculture.

Shelton will perform inside the new Entertainment Pavilion on the show grounds. Tickets are $40, $60, and $80 and on sale at www.worldagexpo.com. Opening for Shelton is recording artist Jason Jones.

The Wednesday night concert is a fundraiser for the new College of the Sequoias agriculture program. Grammy nominee David Nail and opening act Stealing Angels will perform. Tickets are $25, $50, and $65, also available at www.worldagexpo.com.

Among the broad-ranging issues at Tuesday’s seminars include: Navigating the Corn Silage Maize; Are Global Food Safety and Quality Standards Making the Grade?; Dairy and Air Quality – Where the Industry Stands; Choosing the Best Alfalfa and Silage to Maximize Milk Production and Profit; several World Ag Women programs, and more.

Seminars continue Wednesday and Thursday. All Expo seminars are free.

All seminars, except the World Ag Women programs, will be held at the Seminar Center, located on Expo Lane between R and S Streets in the South Expansion area. The World Ag Women Pavilion is located on I Street between South Greenbelt and South Street.

Free parking is available on the show grounds. Free shuttle service is available from several locations in Tulare and Visalia to help attendees avoid traffic congestion.

“The shuttle service brings you to the front gate. It’s much, much easier,” Coito says.

cblake@farmpress.com