Feb 14, 2023High attendance marks Mid-Atlantic convention
Attendance at the 2023 Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention exceeded the attendance at the 2022 convention, according to preliminary counts from a news release from show co-sponsor Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA). Total attendance is estimated at about 2,250.
The 2022 attendance was only about 75% of the pre-pandemic 2020 attendance and the 2023 attendance will be less than the records set in 2018 and 2017, William “Bill” Troxell, PVGA’s executive director said in the release.
Of 2,250 in attendance, about 850 were registered with PVGA, 400 with the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania, 160 with the New Jersey State Horticultural Society, 140 with the Maryland State Horticultural Society and 100 with the Virginia State Horticultural Society. In addition, there were about 200 speakers, 100 guests and students, and 300 or more exhibitor representatives in attendance.
The pre-convention Adams Co. Bus Tour sold out with two busloads of 99 individuals, which is the tour’s usual number. Participants visited a farm market, a greenhouse, an apple packing operation, a fruit tree nursery and a farm-restaurant/bed-and-breakfast operation.
The tree fruit pruning workshop at the Penn State’s Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville, Pennsylvania, drew about 50 participants while the profitable farm market bakery workshop at the Hershey Lodge attracted 45. Up to 20 or more participants each participated in the greenhouse vegetable, FSMA food safety, and pesticide applicator license training workshops.
Michael Kilpatrick, a grower entrepreneur who runs the online farmer education platform Growing Farmers, discussed “Thriving in Uncertain Times” during his presentation on the opening day attended by 425 convention attendees. Kilpatrick used examples from his farm and market business as well as examples from businesses on the Adams County bus tour in which he had participated on the previous day to highlight different strategies that can be used to maximize sales and profits. While Kilpatrick was giving advice on increasing the bottom line financially, he was also constantly reminding growers to also value and care for their teams/employees and make time for own family.
The annual fruit and vegetable growers banquet on the evening of the first day featured awards from the various sponsoring groups. The second day of the convention concluded with a reception for apple growers following the PVGA-sponsored old-fashioned ice cream social which featured generous bowls of vanilla ice cream with numerous toppings and potato chips donated by Herr’s Snacks and Ira A. Middleswarth and Son.
In 2022, with the Covid-19 pandemic still lingering, the AV team rose to the occasion to facilitate more than 40 virtual presentations by speakers who were not physically at the convention but presented remotely. “Thankfully, the pandemic was not a real factor this year and only about five speakers presented remotely, either because of schedule conflicts, travel distance or last-minute circumstances preventing their attendance,” Troxell said in the release.
“The five organizing groups for the Mid-Atlantic Convention hope to continue to build the quality programing and attendance at the convention,” Troxell said in the release. “Your ideas for speakers and topics are always welcome. Our goal is to present an educational program that covers the latest research, growing methods and marketing trends along with practical examples of how growers are successfully growing and marketing their produce.”
Planning for the 2024 Convention will begin in March. PVGA and the other sponsoring organizations invite suggestions for topics and speakers, which may be contributed by telephoning 717-694-3596, emailing [email protected], or writing PVGA at 815 Middle Road, Richfield, PA, 17086.