The Western View: History and Lesser-known World Ag Expo Facts

Taylor Hillman Western View

Snow-filled mountains behind World Ag Expo grounds

It’s that time again!  The 2020 World Ag Expo in Tulare opens on February 11.  It’s the world’s largest Ag equipment show and Ag companies come from around the world to promote their wares.  But it wasn’t always this big.

The very first show had 157 exhibitors down at the Tulare County Fairgrounds. 28,000 visitors came. The second year, there were more than twice as many, setting the growth that has been the show’s trademark. In 1972, the first foreign manufacturers came to Tulare and the show expanded.

In the mid-70s, the Ag Show became the World Ag Expo® as a project of the Greater Tulare Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Committee. The International Agri-Center® was created as the home of the World Ag Expo. It’s a working farm, in addition to an event center, with nearly 400 acres of almonds, hay, and cotton under cultivation. There’s also 100 acres of show space and 120 acres of parking.

Now, the International Agri-Center® has a full-time, year-round staff of 25, and a huge crew of volunteers – about 1200 of them, all working to keep the show and other events running smoothly.  The Center hosted 15 equestrian events in 2019 in addition to weddings, conferences, fundraising events, funerals, business meetings, and more.

For the Expo, outside exhibitors begin moving into their spaces two weeks before the show. Set-up is an amazing effort, with temporary buildings and three semi-trailer truckloads of electrical equipment brought in. The “People Movers” are made ready – these used to be baggage carts at a southern California airport. Volunteers bought the carts and converted them into trams.  

During the show, some 30 non-profit groups set up booths to feed the more than 100,000 visitors and raise funds for their clubs. You’ll find the best tri-tip sandwiches ever made. Plus, some 622 dozen donuts are set out each morning for the early birds. There will be about 1,500 exhibitors on 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space.  

It’s a lot to see and do, and it’s only open 3 days, so come on down! We’ll be there.

 And that’s the Western View from AgNet West and Citrus Industry Magazine. Visit us on the web at