Attendance at the 2023 Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention, by preliminary counts, exceeded the attendance at the 2022 Convention. Total attendance is estimated at about 2,250.
The 2022 attendance was only about 75% of the pre-pandemic 2020 attendance and the 2023 attendance will be less than the records set in 2018 and 2017. Of 2,250 in attendance, about 850 were registered with PVGA, 400 with the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania, 160 with the New Jersey State Horticultural Society, 140 with the Maryland State Horticultural Society and 100 with the Virginia State Horticultural Society. In addition, there were about 200 speakers, 100 guests and students, and 300 or more exhibitor representatives in attendance.
The pre-convention Adams Co. Bus Tour sold out with two busloads – about 99 persons which is the usual number on the bus tour – visiting a farm market, a greenhouse, an apple packing operation, a fruit tree nursery and a farm- restaurant/bed-and-breakfast operation. The Tree Fruit Pruning workshop at the Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville drew about 50 participants while the Profitable Farm Market Bakery workshop at the Hershey Lodge drew about 45 persons. There 20 or more participants in each of the the Greenhouse Vegetable, FSMA Food Safety, and Pesticide Applicator License Training workshops
Keynote speaker, Michael Kilpatrick, discussed “Thriving in Uncertain Times” during his presentation on the opening day attended by about 425 Convention attendees. He used examples from his farm and market business as well as several examples from businesses on the Adams County Bus Tour in which he had participated on the previous day to highlight different strategies that can be used to maximize sales and profits. While he was giving advice on increasing the bottom line financially, he was also constantly reminding growers to also value and care for their teams/employees and make time for own family.
The Annual Fruit and Vegetable Growers Banquet on the evening of the first day featured awards from the various sponsoring groups. The second day of the Convention concluded with a reception for apple growers at 5:00 p.m. following the PVGA-sponsored Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Social at 7:00 p.m. – generous bowls of vanilla ice cream with toppings of your choice and potato chips donated by Herr’s Snacks and Ira A. Middleswarth and Son.
In 2022, with the Covid-19 pandemic still lingering, the AV team rose to the occasion to facilitate over 40 virtual presentations by speakers who were not at the Convention but presented remotely. Thankfully, the pandemic was not a real factor this year and only about five speakers presented remotely either because of schedule conflicts, travel distance or last-minute circumstances preventing their attendance.
The five organizing groups for the Mid-Atlantic Convention hope to continue to build the quality programing and attendance at the Convention. Your ideas for speakers and topics are always welcome. Our goal is to present an educational program that covers the latest research, growing methods and marketing trends along with practical examples of how growers are successfully growing and marketing their produce. Planning for the 2024 Convention will begin in March so send us your suggestions for topics and speakers – 717-694-3596, firstname.lastname@example.org or PVGA, 815 Middle Road, Richfield, PA 17086.