The Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO will be back in-person in 2021, after being held in a virtual format last year.
The EXPO is scheduled Dec. 7–9 at the DeVos Place and Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. At press time, the EXPO organizing committee was waiting until closer to the event to determine which COVID-19 safety protocols it would put in place. They will follow any mandates declared by the Michigan state government or DeVos Place. Refunds will be offered to any attendee that preregisters but is unable to attend due to sickness.
As in past years, the conference will feature a slate of educational sessions and a trade show. Attendees are encouraged to register early to get the early bird discount through Nov. 15 and have their badges mailed so they don’t have to wait in line on Tuesday morning, Dec. 7.
The EXPO educational sessions are divided into several themes, including farm marketing, fruit production, vegetable production and greenhouse production. There will be two labor sessions, two apple sessions, a session and grower panel on farm succession planning, a session on fruit production technologies and one on managing fruit production in a changing climate. In addition, there will be cherry, grape, peach and plum, and blueberry sessions, as well as sessions on sweet cider and hard cider, and organic fruit production.
New at EXPO this year will be a “Genius Bar” stage in the trade show. This stage will host 45-minute Q&A-style sessions where attendees can ask experts about fruit production in their areas of expertise — including apple, cherry, Enviroweather and other topics. Also new will be live art drawn at three locations around the EXPO, as well as a photo booth.
There will be a farm market bus tour on Monday, Dec. 6, the day before EXPO opens. The Michigan apple growers’ luncheon will be held Tuesday, Dec. 7. Both the prayer breakfast and banquet will be held Wednesday, Dec. 8. During the banquet, the Michigan State Horticultural Society (MSHS) will honor Ed Oxley and the late Larry Gut with Distinguished Service Awards. There will also be moments during the educational sessions and banquet dedicated to Gut’s life and impact on the Michigan fruit industry.
MSHS will celebrate its 150th anniversary at the 2021 EXPO. As part of the celebration, the society will raffle off a Kubota RTV520, as well as secondary prizes including a chainsaw, coolers, impact drills, leaf blowers, gift cards and swag bags. Raffle tickets will be $20, or three for $50. The society is encouraging $150 donations in honor of its anniversary. Also, in the Grand Gallery, there will be a 30-foot historical timeline covering Michigan fruit growing from 1870–2020.
For more information about the EXPO, visit: glexpo.com.
—by Matt Milkovich