Stockton Ag Expo celebrates its 25th year with a three-day run Jan. 23-25 at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton, Calif.

The first major farm show of the year will offer the latest in products and services for the diversified California farmer in five large exhibit buildings and outside on acres of hard-surfaced display areas. Stockton Ag Expo has gained the reputation as a "selling show" with an emphasis toward regional suppliers and distributors.

About 500 exhibitors and manufacturer representatives are lined up for this year's expo.

The first show of the new millennium also starts with a day of seminars to help growers and their employees with the continuing education required by the state of California for certification in application of chemicals. Certified instructors will help those attending obtain the annual two-hour requirement to certify. The California EDD will be offering two days of key issues on agricultural employment for attendees.

Most of the popular events will still be offered at Stockton Ag Expo. On all three days at 2 p.m. the Seventh Annual Forklift Rodeo offers open participation with daily prizes as well as a grand prize. At 3 p.m. the Early Day Gas Engines come out of their display area in a popular parade along the midway of Stockton Ag Expo.

Those in 4-H and FFA uniform are admitted free.

Olive Davis, long-time exhibitor sales and service manager for Stockton Ag Expo, said all firms would have the necessary state licenses. Special licensing will also be obtained by several of the auto and truck dealerships showing in this event.

Ag Expo chairperson is John Demichelis, a Ripon area grape grower and harvester. Demichelis' first year as chairperson culminates many years as the volunteer electrical coordinator as well as chief troubleshooter for the three-day farm show. He heads an all-volunteer army that plans and conducts the show each year.

Most agricultural visitors find Interstate 5 or Highway 99 the best to reach the fairgrounds. Off Interstate 5 the direction is east on Charter Way to Airport. Off Highway 99 southbound, it's west on Charter Way to Airport (if northbound from Highway 99 take Mariposa to Charter to Airport.)

Stockton Ag Expo also keeps their volunteer staff monitoring phone calls from the nearby Stockton Metropolitan Airport. Fly-in visitors can call (209) 547-2960 or (209) 547-2930 and a volunteer will be dispatched to give a free ride both to and returning from the three-day show.

Two free seminars will be offered during the first two show days.

On Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. until noon, California Employment Development Department will offer a seminar involving several state agencies working with agriculture. Included are: the Social Security Administration, the California Highway Patrol, the Employer Tax Audit Department, the Employment Development Department Job Search and the Department of Industrial Relations.

From 1-2 p.m. those same days both days the San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner's Office will present on-going educational information to assist both growers and their employees in re-certifying for agricultural chemical applications required by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.