Last week, I was one of the record 2,200 attendees at the annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE), held in Bloomington, IL. As always, the weather was hot and humid, with temperatures topping 96 degrees on the first day. Although most folks were at the show to see the latest in ag retail-oriented equipment, more than a few were there to help celebrate MAGIE’s 30th anniversary.
“This feels really special,” said Jean Payne, president of show sponsor the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA). “There were those who thought the industry didn’t need another summer trade show when MAGIE first started back in 1982. Now, 30 years later, MAGIE has become one of the major ag equipment shows for the market.”
Besides holding a special ribbon-cutting to open the show (which featured past and present members of the IFCA board), several exhibitors posted signs expressing anniversary wishes for MAGIE, including John Deere. And even though there was no birthday cake, the beer and chicken wings offered at the event’s opening day mixer seemed to be appreciated by all the attendees.
In addition to the MAGIE-focused celebration, there were other events of a celebratory nature at the show. For example, AGCO Corp. had a special dinner for past and present employees of its Ag-Chem Equipment line, including Ag-Chem founder Al McQuinn. There, attendees had the chance to share stories and tall tales from their days at Ag-Chem, with McQuinn giving a keynote address to all the gathered guests.
“When I look around this room and see what you’ve done with the Ag-Chem product line, I’m really excited for what this will mean for the future of the brand name,” said McQuinn. “And I sincerely hope you who are now the caretakers for the Ag-Chem name are excited, too.”
Better still, the general mood among exhibitors at MAGIE 2011 was positive. “So far, it’s been a really good year in terms of sales and interest in future sales,” said Larry Yargus, head of Yargus Manufacturing. “I’m cautiously optimistic that things will continue to look up for the rest of the year and into early 2012.”
If this holds true, then the celebration that started on the Bloomington fairgrounds last week will continue for some time to come . . .