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Farm Show opens; Slow start, drought hang over event, but optimism abounds
It was not quite a riotous start at the Colusa County Farm Show on Tuesday.
When the gates officially opened at 9 a.m., things were quiet. Vendors such as Andrew Robinson with Orchard Machinery Corporation of Yuba City were forced to wait patiently for the crowd to arrive.
"It's a little slow so far," Robinson said at around 9:15 a.m. "It's early. We're looking for a good turnout, obviously."
Of course, Robinson's hopes for a good turnout were universal among the vendors. There was some uncertainty, however, due to the water situation in Northern California — but overall, optimism prevailed.
"We've been at the show for around 25 years. It's always a good show for anyone that sells products in Northern California," said LaserMan, Inc. sales representative Ben Sanders. "Shows are great because it is a chance for you to meet existing customers and have face time with them, in addition to meeting potential new customers. This year is going to be interesting because of the water situation. What we did in previous years may have to change. Retailers like us are the last in the food chain."
Sanders explained that uncertainty about the water situation could negatively affect sales. But, even amidst a water shortage, Sanders said the Colusa Farm Show had at least one thing on its side — a long-standing legacy.
"This is THE show for Northern California. Everyone in the Northern California market is here," Sanders said.
By 10:30 a.m., the event — like the Granzella's-catered tri-tip on the grill outside Festival Hall — got cooking. The crowd of spectators began to swell, particularly in Main Exhibit Room, and vendors around the show were interacting with attendees — handing out brochures and business cards, and for many, making sales.
"This is one of the old original buildings. We've been here since the show started here in this same spot. I think about seven of us have been in the same spot since it started," said Robb Fanno of Fanno Saw Works after making a sale to a long-time customer who said he could remember buying saws from the family-owned company when he came to the event with his father 46 years ago.
An announcement came over the public address system at around 10 a.m., commemorating H.L. Peterson, Jim Rogers, and Tom Aldrich and dedicating the show to the long-time Farm Show Committee mainstays who passed away in 2013.
A tribute to Peterson and Rogers ran in the Farm Show Special Section, but Aldrich — who died on Oct. 24, and is credited with being the mind behind the Sacramento Valley Orchard Show, which went on to become the Colusa Farm Show — was regrettably overlooked.
Aldrich was as a farm adviser for Colusa in the 1960s who founded the Sacramento Valley Orchard Show and its steering committee in 1966. He organized the event for three more years before it was passed over to the 44th District Agricultural Association. For his work in the Orchard Show and in the Nickels Field Laboratory, Aldrich was presented with the Floyd Myers Marsh Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award in 1995 by the Colusa County Farm Bureau.