An estimated 2,250 persons attended the 2023 edition of the Mid-Atlantic Convention January 31 to February 2 at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Over 160 companies were represented in the trade show which was sold-out with a waiting list of exhibitors anxious to get into the show. A series of pre-convention workshops and a bus tour on January 30 drew over 250 participants with the bus tour being sold out. After a virtual convention in 2021 due to the pandemic and a successful but slightly smaller in-person convention in 2022, the Convention Committee is pleased with the increased attendance at the 2023 Convention. Various committees are planning for the 2024 Mid-Atlantic Convention with the goal of building on the 47-year history of a premier grower educational event.
The 2023 Educational Program featured three days of six to nine concurrent sessions covering the following areas:
In addition, there was a full day of practical production programming presented in Spanish for farm and orchard workers. Expert speakers from Penn State, Rutgers, University of Maryland, and Virginia Tech, along with others from across the country, presented along with selected growers from the Mid-Atlantic region. Click here for details on the 2023 Spanish program.
The 2024 Educational Program is expected to cover a similar breadth of sessions and topics.
The Great American Hall, the Aztec Room, and the Confection Level Lobby at the Hershey Lodge hosts the Trade Show with over 160 exhibitors filling 231 booths. Specialized horticultural equipment, farm market merchandise, and packaging, are all on display along with information on the latest seed varieties, fruit varieties, pesticides and other supplies and services for the commercial grower. The trade show exhibits will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the first two days, January 30 and 31. On February 1, they open at 8:00 a.m. but close at 2:00 p.m. Here’s the list of 2023 Trade Show exhibitors, most of whom are expected to return for the 2024 Convention.
Kilpatrick’s keynote on the opening day was 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 their own family.
Michael Kilpatrick is a farmer, presenter, host, inventor, and online entrepreneur who lives to help entrepreneurs apply business principles and practical, proven solutions to grow their businesses and simplify their lives. He is the owner of Growing Farmers, an online farmer education platform, host of the top-rated Thriving Farmer Podcast; and host of the Thriving Farmer Summit series, which has been viewed by over a quarter million farmers. He has managed large farms and businesses, consulted for industry experts worldwide, and spoken at dozens of conferences. Michael believes anyone can build a profitable farm by following the proprietary RIPEN system that he teaches at the Small Farm University, his company’s educational platform and community for thriving farmers. Michael lives in an 1890s brick house on his 8-acre urban Farm on Central in Southwest Ohio with his wife and 3 kids.
The day before the main Convention opens, growers can choose between a bus tour of farm markets and horticultural businesses or several different workshops. In 2023 the workshops included Greenhouse Vegetables, Fruit Tree Pruning, Managing a Profitable Farm Market Bakery, Farm Transition, FSMA Grower Training, Spotted Lanternfly Permit Training, and Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicator License Training. The bus tour visited Hollabaugh Brothers farm market, Musselman’s Greenhouse, Rice Fruit Co., and Adams County Nursery with lunch at Hickory Bridge Farm.
A bus tour and similar variety of workshops will be planned for 2024.
The annual Mid-Atlantic Cider Contest is conducted during the Convention to determine the best cider in the region.