Joe Janak, a Texas AgriLife Extension Service agent in Victoria County, said the quarter-century milestone is a testament to the show’s relevance to the agricultural community.
“In its 25-year run, this show has hosted over 800 educational programs on topics of importance to the farming and ranching community,” he said. “We average about 4,000 attendees per show, so over 100,000 people have walked through our gates, and we’ve awarded 85 agricultural scholarships totaling about $87,000.”
Janak said the agribusiness community has taken notice of the show’s success and has offered its support.
“At one point we had as many as 145 exhibitors, and despite the economic stresses, we still average about 120 to 125 exhibitors,” he said.
Despite the tremendous amount of effort that goes into organizing such a large and successful show, Janak said that no one on the organizing committee gets a paycheck.
“Not one person is paid,” he said. “It’s all done by volunteers who serve on the South Texas Farm and Ranch Show Committee and AgriLife Extension in Victoria County.”
The show’s focus, Janak said, has always been about education and supporting the young people of the community.
“We highlight our youth programs,” he said. “We do tours and conduct programs to inform people about the value of agriculture. Over the years we’ve had a ladies’ style show featuring agricultural commodities like cotton, wool and mohair. We’ve had regional hay shows where we’ve had as many as 160 entries. And for six or seven years we’ve had cattle sales. We’ve had regional soil testing programs and regional water testing programs.”
Other unique features in the show’s history include pecan shows, garden expos and for the last six years a golf tournament to raise scholarship funds and to support the show, Janak said.
A number of agricultural organizations have taken advantage of the show’s popularity and have used it as a venue for their annual meetings.
“We’ve collaborated with a number of state organizations holding their meetings at the show in the past such as the South Texas Cotton and Grain Association and others. This year the Texas Corn Producers Board is meeting at the show and conducting five educational programs on corn,” he said.
Texas Department of Agriculture has approved 21 hours of pesticide credit at the show with three hours in laws and regulations, 7.5 in Integrated Pest Management and 10.5 in general. Also approved are 25 hours for certified crop advisors and two hours for beef quality assureance, Janak said.
Admission to the show is free. Admission to the luncheon is $7 on Oct. 28 and $10 on Oct. 29. To help plan adequate seating, registration to attend any of the free programs must be made by calling 316-575-4581.
“For the last four years we’ve had the Cattleman’s College here as well as the range symposium,” he said. “And to help with the environment, we’ve also hosted Texas Country Cleanup where producers can safely dispose of their unused pesticides, chemicals and containers.”
This year’s show promises to be just as informative and eventful as prior shows, with a possible glimpse of what’s in store for the Texas agricultural community, Janak said.
One of the two leading speakers at the event is Dr. Jerry Hatfield, director of the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa, who will present “Climate Change and Texas Agriculture.”
The Oct. 29 luncheon features Dennis Avery, director of the Center for Global Food Issues at the Hudson Institute in Washingon, D. C. Avery will address how agriculture can survive the challenges of food production, biofuels and climate.
“These two individuals have years of research and experience behind them, and are nationally and internationally known in ag circles,” Janak said. “Agricultural producers will come away from their talks with a perspective of how climate change will affect Texas agriculture and whether it is normal cyclical weather patterns or man-made climate change and how we can prepare for it.”
Janak said growers will also learn more about the obstacles in food and fiber production.
“The bottom line here,” he said, “is that we can do something about it.”
A question-and-answer session will follow Avery’s luncheon presentation.
Other educational programs will include information on beef cattle economics, pesticide laws and regulations, rainwater harvesting, irrigation efficiency, insect identification and management in the home, feral hogs in Texas, range management, on-farm grain storage and other issues of importance to farmers and ranchers.