Organizers of the World Ag Expo, the largest farm technology and equipment show of its kind in the world, announced Monday that the 2021 event has been canceled because of the prospect of the novel coronavirus.
It’s the first time in more than 50 years that the show, held each February at the massive International AgriCenter in Tulare, has been scrubbed. The 2020 edition was the 53rd annual event.
“After working with the Tulare County Health Department and other officials, it has become evident that given health and safety restrictions from the State of California, holding a live, international event is not responsible in February,” International AgriCenter CEO Jerry Sinift said in a statement Monday announcing the cancellation.
It’s not uncommon for the show to confront rainy weather that can turn the showgrounds into a mud- and puddle-studded venue for both exhibitors and visitors.
But the virus – which has infected more than 29 million people worldwide and claimed almost 926,000 lives – was not a risk that show organizers were willing to face. The show typically attracts an average of about 100,000 visitors and more than 1,500 exhibitors from at least 60 countries.
Tulare County has experienced 15,270 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the first local cases were reported in the Valley in March, and 247 deaths in the county have been blamed on the virus and the respiratory disease it causes.
The cancellation also means ripple effects that will be felt by more than those who would attend.
The show represents a major boost to the local economy as visitors and exhibitors fill local hotels and visit restaurants in Tulare County and surrounding counties. Local nonprofit organizations, including clubs and schools, also count on the show as a chance to raise funds by selling food and other goods to visitors on the showgrounds.
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