Jul 6, 2016Book your hotel early for Great Lakes EXPO
Planning is underway for the education programs, trade show and special events for the 2016 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO and Michigan Greenhouse Growers EXPO. The two conventions will be held concurrently Dec. 6-8 at DeVos Place Convention Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. More than 4,000 growers, farm marketers, industry associates and family members registered for the two conferences in 2015.
Added to this year’s program will be the annual conferences of the North American Strawberry Growers Association (NASGA) and the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association (NARBA). Both NASGA and NARBA will offer a pre-conference program on Monday, Dec. 5. Morning and afternoon strawberry and bramble sessions will also be offered on Tuesday.
The Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO gets bigger and offers more each year. This will be the 16th annual EXPO. In 2001, the Michigan State Horticultural Society and Michigan Vegetable Council combined their shows into one large event for fruit and vegetable growers and farm marketers.
Justin Oomen from Hart, Michigan, is serving as president of the Great Lakes EXPO’s board of directors this year.
“The board is committed to making the EXPO the premier show for fruit and vegetable growers and farm marketers in the Great Lakes region and beyond,” Oomen said.
For the past seven years, the Michigan Greenhouse Growers EXPO has been held concurrently with the Great Lakes EXPO. The Metropolitan Detroit Flower Growers Association and Western Michigan Greenhouse Association sponsor this conference.
“Holding the conferences together has worked well,” said Scott Stiles, president of the Western Michigan Greenhouse Association. “It has made it possible to expand the educational and networking opportunities for greenhouse growers.”
Michigan State University (MSU) Extension works with the sponsoring organizations to plan the education programs for both conferences. All sessions in both conferences are open to all attendees. This year’s education programs will offer three full days of education sessions and workshops covering fruit and vegetable crops, greenhouse production and marketing, farm marketing ideas and issues, as well as a number of general topics of interest to growers. More than 70 educational sessions and workshops will be offered over the three days of the two conferences.
Once again, a pre-conference bus tour for farm marketers is being offered. Last year, 137 people from 22 states and Canada participated in the tour. This year’s tour will be held on Monday, Dec. 5. This is a great opportunity to learn marketing ideas and to network with other farm marketers from around North America.
Last year’s trade show had a record 456 companies and organizations exhibiting products and services for growers and farm marketers. This year’s trade show will again include a separate area for farm marketing exhibitors. The trade show is open to attendees of both conferences. The EXPO’s trade show is one of the largest offered anywhere specifically for fruit, vegetable and greenhouse growers and farm marketers.
The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel is the headquarters hotel for the EXPO. Nearly all of the Amway’s rooms are blocked for the EXPO, but they fill quickly. Other downtown hotels with room blocks and special convention rates are the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown, JW Marriott, Holiday Inn Downtown, Homewood Suites by Hilton Downtown and Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown. Since the downtown hotels fill early, several hotels north of the downtown area will be offering a bus shuttle during the event. A complete list of hotels offering convention rates is provided on the EXPO’s website.
As more information becomes available, it will be posted at GLEXPO.com.