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Tennessee Agribition: Not just a beef show
Indiana Correspondent

MURPHYSBORO, Tenn. — For the last 19 years - and counting - the Tennessee Agribition, has focused on setting itself apart from other beef shows.

First started by a group of progressive cattle breeders that saw a need for a spring beef expo, the Agribition is so named especially not to sound like other beef shows. The Agribition takes place during the second weekend in March each year.

“We’re a few years younger than other expos out there, and we needed a different name because we already have a summer junior beef expo,” said long-time event participant and organizer, Kevin Ferguson of Rockvale, Tenn. “So we borrowed the name from the Canadian Agribition.”

Ferguson and his wife, Phyllis, raise Shorthorns and are highly involved in the Agribition each year.

“We’ve held just about every office, currently Phyllis is trade show chair,” he said adding that the trade show is essential to bring in operating funds for the expo, but is also a huge draw for visitors.

“The state legislature helped us get started, but now, unlike a lot of expos, we’re self supporting,” Ferguson said proudly. “Breed associations that participate make a small contribution fee from their sales, but it’s the trade show sponsors that make the difference.”

Trade show exhibitors have good reason to attend as over 200 exhibitors bring 350 head of cattle from 8 states.

“The trade show is a major focus here and a lot of people come to attend that and don’t even buy cattle,” noted Ferguson who added that products including show supplies, animal health, semen, and feed are on display.

The Agribition strives to be unique among expo peers offering things like free admission and parking when most other beef events don’t and class entry fee pay-back premiums to fifth place in the junior show.

“The junior show on Sunday helps market the cattle in our sales as juniors can purchase cattle on Friday or Saturday and then show them on Sunday,” Ferguson said.

Ten breeds participate regularly in the Agribition and each must offer at least 30 head through the sale and the show of the sale cattle. Both bulls and females are sold. Females include show heifers, bred heifers and cows.

Most breeds also host annual meeting and banquets and two representatives from each breed help govern the Agribition and make year-to-year decisions. Another unique factor is the participation of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) students.

The Agribition is on the MTSU campus, and Ferguson said many students volunteer their time to help the event cut costs.

“Beef cattle production is the No. 1 agricultural enterprise in the state of Tennessee, and the Agribition is the largest beef cattle event in the state,” Ferguson pointed out. “The Agribition provides the showcase for the beef industry and the place to market high quality breeding stock.”

This farm news was published in the April 5, 2006 issue of Farm World.