TULARE — Arie and Rikie Binnendyk came to this San Joaquin Valley farm town all the way from British Columbia to attend the 51st annual World Ag Expo.
Actually the Dutch immigrants who built a successful dairy in Canada were on vacation in California, but they made sure the trip included a visit to one of the most prestigious farm shows in the world.
"Everyone (in agriculture) knows Tulare's farm show," Arie Binnendyk said, in a thick Dutch accent as he and his wife were leaving the expo Wednesday.
Indeed, the three-day event, which continues Thursday, boasts some 1,600 exhibitors spread out over 260 acres, making up 2.6 million square feet of tractors, heavy machinery, trucks, trailers, tools, utility vehicles, windmills, bailers, spreaders, tillers, sprayers, quadcopters, water pumps, water tanks, solar arrays, digital sensor technologies, and much more.
The license plates on the thousands of cars — and, not coincidentally, a crazy number of white pickups — packed into the acres and acres of parking lots hail not only from Tulare's home state, but Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Texas and who knows how many other states and countries.
One bumper sticker on a local area pickup read, "Eat beef: The West wasn't won on salad."
And inside the gates, that non-vegetarian call to dinner was easy to fulfill as tri-tip and other cuts of beef sizzled over open flames. Scores of customers in Wranglers and down vests lined up at Sundale School's award-winning booth where ribeye steak sandwiches are sold like sides of beef on bread. And it soon became apparent the World Ag Expo resembles a county or state fair for farm geeks. There's no midway, and no carnies, but the sales reps for Bakersfield's own Douglass Truck Bodies, and locally owned General Scales (and hundreds of other exhibitors) are just as skillful.
Even Jim (no last name given) at a booth where he was talking up Tie Boss, "the world's easiest tie down … better than a bungee," had a sizable crowd gathered.
"One reason it works so well is it wasn't made in China," Jim said to the gathered faithful. "One hundred percent made in the U.S.A."
Michael Garcia, 68, of Porterville, attends the expo every year — and he's not even in agriculture.
"What brings me out is the people and the food," Garcia said. "And it's so interesting seeing the equipment and the advances in technology from when I was a kid.
"You always see good people. You see friends you haven't seen in years."