What a day to visit the 50th annual Tulare County World Ag Expo! The central valley of California has experienced one of the wettest rain seasons in known history. The timing could not have been better to arrive at the grounds on a misty, crisp morning early on Wednesday, February 15th. Not only was it beneficial for parking close to a main gate, it had dried out to where we were not immersed in people and mud. The snow-capped Sierra mountains were barely visible upon arrival, yet, by mid-afternoon they were clearly visible, which will be seen at article’s end.
So, the day begins. As an antecedent, we arrived one week early, by accident, as mentioned on the previous article. Upon an oops arrival, it was decided to enjoy the ambiance and rich history of this incredible breadbasket of the world the International Agri-Center has provided for the public to enjoy for only donations. Of course, the annual World Ag Expo did require a paltry entry admission, which was gladly forked over. What many people do not realize is much of the funds gathered by the facility goes right back into the county for schools and community services.
Since arriving early to the event, we stood in line for a while, awaiting entry onto the grounds. It was a great time to interact and commiserate with not only attendees, but with some exhibitors, as well. The Expo staff actually approached us with stamps for our forehands indicating our paid status, in case we needed to leave, temporarily before returning to the grounds. Since it was a bit cool, some staff members were offering coffee and hot chocolate drinks for us to enjoy, at no charge. What a deal! Everyone was quite jovial and we met some nice and interesting people. Security was in existence, yet, I was rather amazed at how well they kept a low-profile and quiet demeanor.
With the following images, please click on any one of them to start a clickable gallery of pictures:
Once we entered the gates, the extravaganza began! Which way to go, which way to go, was the first thoughts on mind. Left was chosen in anticipation of not being left out (pun intended). What a spectacle to behold as we all walked in amazement at the displays, exhibits, pavilions, and buildings amassed in the sprawling grounds. As the morning grew into midday, we were all blessed with the incredibly great weather break from recent storms and rainfall (no complaints and disdain for those who do). Are we out of a drought, could be, yet no one in the central valley should ever be upset with moisture from rainfall or water flow.
Well, there is some valid complaints I can think of during any harvest. There are raisins drying in the sun, cotton ready for ginning at the wrong time…oh my, I could open a number of situations from here on…not to worry, I caught myself in the nick of time from getting too far off topic…however, all above issues can be relevant to the best farmers, ranchers, and dairymen this valley has ever known. I must say this again, for the record. The world is blessed beyond belief, at the hard work, multi-generational, and diligent realization of what agriculture means to everyone living here and in the world. These gifted individuals know this and so should everyone else. Because of what they know, learn, and teach, we are all better off, as they apply all resources to grow more with less every year. We. too, should be examples of how not only to conserve, but to apply our residential wiles to conservation and recycling efforts, where applicable.
There, I just got off my stump for recognition and conservation. I am blessed with those who, as mentors, enabled me to understand, especially in community and regional activities to give back where I can.
Please click on any of the images below to start a clickable gallery where you can exit at any time to return to the article. These are some of the sites seen and enjoyed. Thank goodness for the trams offered to see the grounds…the most ever:
Next on the voyage, I first stopped by the Toyota booth where they were raffling a new vehicle for $5 per ticket. I didn’t win, but it was for a great cause; Valley Children’s Hospital. I met more friends and acquaintances over the many years of life in Tulare County. At the International Business Center (shown above) I saw Ryan Purkiss, who is the Present Rotary president for the Visalia Sunset club. The reception for Ag Expo attendees was very well done. I was able to visit with other Rotary friends who were busy attending to the crowds. Ryan said all five Visalia Rotary clubs and both Tulare clubs had combined resources together to provide the amenities for everyone to enjoy. It was a pleasant respite from the crowds to enjoy the food and drinks there. Then I saw another friend of many years, Dr. Larry Stoneburner. He has been a mainstay in multi-county community service for as long as I can remember:
Then, I was on the hunt to say hello to Ray Appleton of KMJ 580 AM Radio, known as KMJNOW. I first visited the Heritage Complex media center because I had failed to listen closely enough when Ray said from where he would be broadcasting during the three-day event. The management and staff were most accommodating and pointed to the Case Exhibit not too far away. I mention this because I wanted to give kudos to all who participated in this fantastic 50th anniversary event! The staff members commented how fortunate they were that KMJ and Ray Appleton were participating, as they have done for years.
Since I lived in the Las Angeles area, I started travelling on business in the central California valley. This was where I first listened to KMJ radio. They are known as Radio City (Fresno, CA). Also known as the blow-torch of the valley, it broadcasts over 50,000 Watts of power. It can be heard from the western coastal areas to as far south as the Grapevine heading south over the mountains to southern California. It is also heard as far east as the Sierra mountain chain to as far north approaching Sacramento. By the way, KMJ streams worldwide so do listen when you can.
Finally, we made our way to where Ray was broadcasting from his booth at the Case Exhibit. On a personal note, I wanted to state, for the record a little bit about Ray Appleton, from my experiences. For many years past, when I was reaching out to the community in association with area education, the Visalia Chamber of Commerce, and two Rotary Clubs, Visalia Sunset and then Woodlake, I would sometimes see Ray. He is a huge believer in community welfare activities, whether it ranges from business to one of his favorite organizations, the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Over the years, his passion for politics has found him in contact with past presidents of the United States, including President Trump, where he just returned from the 115th Congressional State of the Union address. He also provides a venue for any and all political entities who care to share with the public with local, state, and federal actions and activities. His candor for being honest, to the point, yet quite humanistic to everyone with whom he has contact is well-known for the last thirty years. Obviously, I have a keen respect for Ray and I am glad to just have the contact I have over the years, inclusive of periodic call ins to the radio station to chat on various subjects. To note, 2017 begins his 30th year of broadcasting. The management and staff of KMJ 580 AM Radio are honoring Ray with the 30th Anniversary Bash to be held at the Fresno Fairground on May 20th, beginning at 2 pm. There will be many festivities to enjoy. I certainly plan to attend!
To end this segment, it was great to see Ray during one of his brief breaks at the bottom of the hour. When I had arrived, almost no one was hanging around, yet, by the time Ray generously took a few moments to chat, some important-looking people were showing up. From experience, I knew this would become part of his show so after the above photo-op, I knew it was time to go. Was I ever so right, as I was listening in some major issues had arisen where, as usual, he was taking the ‘bull by the horns’. Although brief, this was a memorable visit.
As the day moved along, the plethora of tractor-driven coaches were an absolute blessing. There were so many of them some actually had to stop and wait for the one in front. It was such an easy start and stop operation, we were able to see all of what we chose to see. As the afternoon waned into later day, the crowds were still growing! The air was filled with sounds of people speaking in many different languages and the smells of different cuisines wafted and seemed to follow as I walked along the various ‘roads’ in the two-million acre layout.
In closing, I want to leave everyone concerned, the Heritage Complex management and staff, exhibitors, broadcasters, concessionaires, maintenance, and just plain, nice visitors a huge, heart-felt thank you. This was a most unforgettable event so fitting for the 50th Annual World Ag Expo, hosted by the International Agri-Center and Heritage Complex.
As promised at the beginning of the article, here are some pictures during exit: