STATEWIDE — The Maine Agriculture Trades Show will go virtual this year and many are seeing this as a positive move.
In a normal year, Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry would be setting up at the Augusta Civic Center for their winter showcase.
The 80th annual show kicked off Tuesday and runs through Saturday.
“The value of this trade show experiences from an educational standpoint, networking perspective, and it gives an opportunity to seek out those new products, maintain your certifications,” said Jim Britt, the department’s communication director. “It’s all happening online.”
The show is free to the public on the department’s Facebook or Youtube pages. Those who register will get discounts and perks from exhibitors.
Britt said he’s had an eye-opening experience when hearing how people in the industry have worked through the pandemic, but the unique part of this show doesn’t rely on professions.
“You don’t have to be a forester, you don’t have to be a farmer or an equipment salesperson to want to participate in this trade show,” Britt said.
People in the agriculture industry say it’s a tradition that runs deep in the roots of Maine.
“Being able to glean from the people that have come before us and to mentor the people coming behind us,” said Sarah Perking, owner of Ledgeway Farm. “There’s just so much information and I just love the excitement and the vibe and the feeling I get when I’m at the ag show.”
Even though the show will be virtual, there is a wider network waiting to be tapped into.
As we learned in 2020, an online network opens up endless opportunities.
“Now that it’s online, I think a lot of other venues have experienced that they’ve gotten more people in attendance from all over the country,” said Perkins.
It takes months to prepare for a show orchestrated with many parts but there’s a bigger message here.
“These are the most passionate and dedicated people I’ve ever worked with, and I’m not just saying it to say it’s really a remarkable group of people,” said Britt.