January 24, 2004 at 11:16 PM CST - Updated June 26 at 12:26 AM
January 24, 2004 -- Posted at 6:15 p.m. CST
POPLAR BLUFF -- Folks from all over Region 8 gathered Friday and Saturday at the 18th Annual Agriculture Expo in Poplar Bluff.
Toy tractor peddle pulls...beauty pageants...petting zoos...and even a traveling aquarium full of fish native to Missouri....there was plenty to take in.
"We really showcase agriculture...it's kind of like nearly a winter county fair, because we have so many activities for the young people," said Phyllis Flanigan, public relations director for Ag Expo.
This year marks the 18th year for the Ag Expo in Poplar Bluff. The event began in 1986 at the Three Rivers Community College Gymnasium with just 65 booths, and this year, more than 118 were here at the Black River Coliseum.
Autumn Fast is president of the TRCC Aggies Club and although this was her first year at the Ag Expo, she said it's been great.
"They said we were going to have this huge thing in January and it's going to be the Ag Expo, and I didn't know what I was getting in for," said Fast, "but it's been a great experience...and I didn't know there was so many people that would come out and support agriculture and the community."
"Everything has gotten better in the last 18 years...and everything changes every year, somethings are different, it's not the same old thing every year, and that's what I've enjoyed about it, seeing all the different, bigger and better things all through the years," said Danny Sentell of Sentell Auction Service.
Sentell is a familar face at Ag Expo. He's had a booth every year, and also serves at the auctioneer for the old time auction.
"It's really been an experience the last 18 years and I hope I get to do it another 18 years," laughed Sentell.
Boothholders had drawings for door prizes, give-aways and even free snacks and drinks.
Gary Murphy of the Missouri Rice Council says the Ag Expo is perfect time to visit with rice farmers.
"We just like to show our appreciation to the rice farmers and the consumers in the area that eat rice also," said Murphy.
"A lot of the ground in this area is very well suited for rice and we have a lot of water availablitly in this area where we can grow rice cheaper than they can in some areas of the country," said Murphy.
Good weather on both Friday and Saturday brought lots of folks out to the Expo, but organizers say they were hoping for snow!
"You know weather is a big predictor of our attendenance. I know you're not going to believe this but the worst weather we've had is our highest attendance because farmers dont' really have a lot to do when the weather is bad and so we get a lot more people attending," said Flanigan.
Organizers estimated that more than 10,000 people attended the Expo over the two day event.