A combination of inspiring speakers, an impressive trade show, top-notch entertainment, nationally recognized agricultural thought leaders, and educational sessions — Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused educational and agricultural experience. On top of it all, Commodity Classic provides attendees the opportunity to network with thousands of farmers from across the nation.
#Classic20 is drawing near! Whether you’re an attendee, exhibitor, experienced event-goer, or we’ve simply caught your attention, here are 10 fast facts about the annual event where the nation’s top agri-businesses come together with top agriculturalists.
1. Two commodities. One vision: How did Commodity Classic begin?
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and the National Corn Growers Association (NGCA) each held their own conventions — Soybean Expo and the Corn Classic. The commodity groups saw the needed to raise attendance, so a steering committee of corn and soybean farmers was created and Commodity Classic was formed.
Bart Ruth of Rising City, Nebraska, past president of ASA, said, “We found that a good percentage of our membership overlapped and we were all looking at ways to expand the number of people who attended. Corn and soybean growers are pretty much the same across the country, so many common topics and issues resonated with both. It was an exciting time because Commodity Classic was a new concept with bigger programming, headline entertainment and a larger trade show.”
2. The originals: Who founded Commodity Classic?
Three representatives from the National Corn Growers Association and three representatives for the American Soybean Association served on the original steering committee. Who knew that this initial group of driven agriculturalists would begin what is now one of the most prominent events in the industry.
3. Coming together: How was the first Commodity Classic viewed by the farmers?
Ken McCauley, a farmer from White Cloud, Kansas and past president of NCGA, recalls going to the first Commodity Classic with his father.
“We were in awe of the fact that the commodity groups were together,” he said. “It was a big change — and I’ve been to every Commodity Classic since.”
4. The Land of Red Dirt and Cactuses: When and where was the first Commodity Classic held?
1996 in Phoenix, Arizona.
5. Created by farmers for farmers: What is the purpose?
This annual event is the place for America’s soybean, corn, wheat, and sorghum farmers to see the latest innovations first-hand, hear game-changing ideas, and meet other growers and ag leaders from across the nation. Talk about a one of a kind networking opportunity!
6. What fire code?: What was attendance like for the first Commodity Classic (1996)?
An ASA representative on the original steering committee, Gordon Wassenaar remembers sneaking people in the side doors of the trade show after the fire marshal announced capacity.
7. Close to the top: How is attendance to this day?
The 2019 Commodity Classic had more than 9,100 people, including approximately 4,500 farmers. The farmer attendance figure was second highest in the history of Commodity Classic; total attendance ranked third!
8. Who said work travel wasn’t fun: What cities have hosted Commodity Classic?
The first Commodity Classic in 1996 was hosted in Phoenix. Since then, Orlando, Anaheim, New Orleans, Nashville, and San Antonio — to name a few — have hosted Commodity Classic.
The 2019 Commodity Classic in Orlando and 2018 Commodity Classic in Anaheim attracted not only event-goers but their families as well. The draw: Disney and Commodity Classic — what a combination!
9. To those who make it possible: Who sponsors the present Commodity Classic?
After the 1996 Commodity Classic, in which ASA and NCGA sponsored the event, two more commodity associations joined: the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) in 2007 and National Sorghum Producers (NSP) in 2009. Fast forward to 2016, and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) became a sponsor, bringing its members to Commodity Classic in New Orleans from the original AG CONNECT event. All of these groups are 2020 sponsors.
10. “See Your Future Clearly”: What can we expect from the 2020 Commodity Classic?
Back in San Antonio, the 2020 Commodity Classic theme is “See Your Future Clearly.” At one of the most sought-after events in agriculture, farmers who attend this year’s event will get so much more than cool swag. They will get the answers, solutions, and insights they need to create a vision to bring back to their operation and ensure success for years to come.
Experience the positive energy of being around thousands of talented farmers and agricultural innovators at the 2020 Commodity Classic in San Antonio!
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