With the physical expansion of the International Agri-Center showgrounds at Tulare, Calif., to include another 250 spaces and 150 feet onto the Dairy Center, 2004 World Ag Expo chairperson Margaret Uchita literally has more ground to cover than any of her predecessors.

“Once construction is complete,” Uchita says, “the Dairy Center will be the largest building in Tulare at 80,000 square feet, the size of over two football fields!”

As chairperson of the Happy Cookers, Uchita works her magic in the kitchen while Expo goes on outside. She keeps on top of goings-on thanks to volunteers who stop by to chat.

Uchita got involved with the Farm Show and Happy Cookers because she always loved to cook — she has “a pile” of blue ribbons and a passion in particular for baking. In the early days, volunteers were fed from a trailer. Now the Happy Cookers work in their 400 square-foot kitchen in the social hall building, feeding between 20 and 300 show volunteers. “The volunteers are so appreciative — there is never one who doesn't take the time to say thank you!”

Uchita is visiting other shows like the North American Farm Show Council. “We share common concerns, like the economy, “Uchita reports.

A tradition Uchita hopes continues is to see families coming to Expo together. “The kids get to see the latest technology of how our food, our cotton — everything — is produced. It creates an ongoing loyalty to ag.”

World Ag Expo 2004 is scheduled for Feb. 10-12. Call 1-800-999-9186 for more information.