MAGIE 2010: Food For Thought

I have a co-worker who is fond of ending any of his speeches with the phrase: “I’m betting all of you in this room had a good meal today. You can thank agriculture for that.” In addition, those of us who like to eat can thank the ag equipment community as well.

Last week, I spent my time visiting Bloomington, IL, and the annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE). As anyone who’s ever attended a MAGIE show will attest to, the event is one of the industry grandest stages for ag retail equipment featuring new product launches, numerous item upgrades and plenty of ride-and-drives.

However, one thing MAGIE is not typically known for is food. Traditionally, to avoid bumping heads with the show’s food tent providers, MAGIE exhibitors have not expanded their consumable offerings beyond occasional popcorn or ice cream sandwiches.

But the 2010 MAGIE was different. Attendees could snack on rib-eye sandwiches courtesy of AGCO, hamburgers cooked by the Adams Fertilizer booth staff or try a pork chop-on-stick complements of Doyle Manufacturing. At this year’s event, if someone went away from MAGIE hungry, they clearly weren’t following their noses.

So what explains this sudden buffet line mentality at MAGIE? According to Katie Hommer, marketing coordinator for New Leader/Highway Equipment Co., part of the reason could reflect the mood among equipment suppliers in 2010. “The past few years have seen most companies holding their breaths waiting to see how the market would perform,” said Hommer. “But this year, companies are feeling more confident that the worst is over. So why not celebrate this fact with something good to eat?”

At its MAGIE booth, New Leader passed out arguably the most interesting food fare: Walking tacos. For those unfamiliar with this concept, walking tacos use a small chip bag as a holder instead of the traditional taco shell. This is packed with crushed chips, meat, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and salsa and then eaten with a fork, allowing diners to eat and walk, in theory, without spilling the contents on their shirts.

With luck, this desire to celebrate a better year in 2010 – with or without food involved – will carry over throughout the rest of the fall shows, and beyond.

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