Security will be tight for man and beast alike at this year's World Ag Expo Feb. 12-14 in Tulare, Calif.

Sept. 11 has touched even the world's largest farm show in the rural heart of California.

According to World Ag Expo general manager Gary Schulz, there will be random inspection of vehicles entering the show site.

This may be even more incentive to utilize five off-site parking areas where shuttle buses will carry visitors to the show and take them back to their vehicles.

Schultz also said bags, parcels and other carry-ins will be subject to random inspection at show entrances.

Unattended packages on the show grounds also will signal security alerts to local law officers on duty at the show.

Those extra precautions are to protect people, but perhaps an even bigger security net is being cast to protect animals, specifically the San Joaquin Valley dairies and cattle ranches.

A global outbreak of foot and mouth disease has prompted show officials to ban all cloven hoof animals from the show grounds. Plus farm and dairy tours hosted by the show for international visitors have been cancelled.

No farm tours

“We are encouraging all exhibitors to cooperate by not removing attendees from the exhibition site to visit area farms and dairies,” said show chairman Don Brown, a Tulare area farmer.

“We are also encouraging area farmers and dairymen to refuse requests for tours during the week of the World Trade Expo,” said Schulz.

Itineraries of international visitors also will be monitored to enhance the show's biosecurity, added Brown. “The goal is to further reduce risk by making sure that international attendees have been in the United States for several days before they come to the show grounds,” he explained.

The heightened security measures among the myriad of activities leading up to the show come “with a sense that we have a greater responsibility to produce the world's greatest ag exposition,” said Schulz. “It's our contribution to the cause of freedom and liberty. It's our contribution to promoting the world's agriculture industry and seeing to it that our free enterprise system stays free.”

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the show that once was called the California Farm Equipment Show. It became World Ag Expo, but it remains the biggest agricultural event in California sprawled across two million square feet of exhibit space that was once an alfalfa field. About 1,400 exhibitors are expected to show their wares.

Hours remain unchanged. Exhibits open at 9 a.m. each day and close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday and 4 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is $7 with a three-day discount pass available for $18. Show grounds are on Highway 99 just south of Tulare.

Free parking is available at the show grounds, but show organizers encourage visitors to use park and ride shuttle service from five locations:

  • Horizon Outlet at Highway 99 at Prosperity Avenue.

  • Tulare County Fairgrounds grandstand parking through gate 14 on Bardsley and gate 17 on K Street.

  • MidValley Cotton Gin (99 and Cartmill Ave.

  • The Tulare Airport (Avenue 200 and Highway 99)

  • Visalia Mall (Mooney Boulevard and Walnut)

Admission tickets will be available at each park and ride site.

Advance tickets also can be purchased through the International Agri-Center by calling 559/688-1751 or 800/999-9186.

Always rain chance

And, as always be prepared for rain. It would not be the Tulare farm show without rain at least one day.

This will be the second year that the Heritage Complex will be utilized during the show. It is a 57,000-square-foot facility housing a farm equipment museum and a learning center designed to introduce children and the urban public to the issues and challenges facing farmers today.

It also will be the site for at least three major events during the Feb. 12-14 farm equipment show:

  • A prayer breakfast at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

  • The Ag Leadership alumni association annual fund raiser breakfast at 7 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, featuring Air Force fighter pilot Scott O'Grady who was shot down over Bosnia and survived six days in enemy territory before being rescued. He shared his experience in the best seller, Return to Glory.

  • A series of free export seminars during all three days of the show in the Wells Fargo Theatre in the Heritage Complex.

“During these difficult times, doing business internationally is more challenging,” said 2002 show chairman Brown. “However, we must continue to find ways to expand markets for American agriculture and our part to strengthen the domestic economy.”

There will be 15 export seminars during the three days coordinated by Candy Hansen of the University Center Export Program in Fresno.

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com