As farming operations have become more diverse over the years, the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show has evolved beyond just cotton to meet the needs of producers who grow multiple crops.
Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, which sponsors the event, said, “We also are invested in rice because I view it as one of the five key crops. We’ve had a real increase in the number of new and returning exhibits with connections to the rice industry. They represent the procurement of varietal seed and the production process all the way through to international rice market issues to the major marketers who will be there.”
In 2023, the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show is celebrating its 71st anniversary. I don’t remember the beginning of the show, but I recall walking the aisles for many years at different stages of my life. As a kid from rural Louisiana, the idea of going to a big city was overwhelming at best. The only thing that looked familiar to me was the Mississippi River that I grew up next to my entire life. While Dad talked to the people at the booths, I marveled at the big machinery and filled my sack with souvenirs to take home.
Later on, my husband and I farmed in the Delta near Greenwood, Mississippi. The Gin Show was still a big deal, and Memphis was a great adventure. We walked the aisles, talked to exhibitors and took in whatever other opportunities were available from year to year. This timing was before the Internet, so if you wanted to know what was going on in the Mid-South ag world, you better show up at the Gin Show. In the evening, we took in the local cuisine, including Charlie Vergos’ Rendevous, a renown rib joint located in an intriguing brick alleyway catty-cornered to the Peabody Hotel. If you have never been there, it’s definitely worth a visit.
During my years as an ag journalist covering the show, the Ag Updates have been a “must attend.” As more educational opportunities have been added, they are front and center as well. On Saturday, be sure to check out a special rice marketing educational seminar that features Milo Hamilton, co-founder and senior agricultural economist of Firstgrain Inc.
A couple of light-hearted memories from the event include the year the guys from Duck Dynasty showed up at an exhibitor’s booth to sign autographs and talk about their upcoming reality TV show. Another year, football legend Terry Bradshaw was hired by an exhibitor to sign autographs and be available for photo ops.
The Mid-South Farm and Gin Show has a history all its own. It means different things to different people, but everyone holds the memories close to their hearts. Come take a walk through the Renasant Center in Memphis next to the Mighty Mississip’ this February 24-25. You’ll be glad you did.