Business

Tulare fair goes electronic

Lee Goldstein photographs his wife Marcia Goldstein, both of Three Rivers, sitting in the cab of a 500 horsepower John Deere track tractor on the last day of the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Thursday. "It's like a giant toy," said Marcia. 
(CHRISTIAN PARLEY / THE FRESNO BEE)
Lee Goldstein photographs his wife Marcia Goldstein, both of Three Rivers, sitting in the cab of a 500 horsepower John Deere track tractor on the last day of the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Thursday. "It's like a giant toy," said Marcia. (CHRISTIAN PARLEY / THE FRESNO BEE)

As many as a half dozen people who operate farm shows may be looking over some folks' shoulders Tuesday when the World Ag Expo trots out a new computer registration system.

Jerry Sinift, general manager for the International Agri-Center in Tulare, said trade shows outside agriculture already use the system, "but we're the only ag trade show that has attempted this. People who run other shows will be attending to see how it goes."

The registration system, which gathers demographic information on each visitor, was adopted at the request of exhibitors who want to know more about those attending the show.

"It's gotten more expensive for exhibitors to attend trade shows, and they have to justify why they should attend," Sinift said.

Attendees are asked basic information such as their hometown, crops they may grow, the size of their farming operation and livestock they have. They have the option of not answering some questions.

Information will be held by the expo, and nothing specific will be shared on individual attendees, Sinift said.

Admission passes carry a code. Exhibitors who purchase a bar code scanner can ask attendees if they're interested in more information and can directly scan the attendees' information into their expo follow-up list.

"You don't have to carry bags around with you to collect brochures," said Andrew Cummings, president of T.G. Schmeiser Co. Inc. in Fresno. "Vendors can send the material to you."

A long-time exhibitor for the 41-year-old expo, Cummings' company makes and sells tillage equipment.

"We also have outdoor fire pits and have exhibited at consumer trade shows where registration is done. I've seen it work really well," Cummings said.

He said this first year of registration "will probably bring a huge learning curve. But attendees will see that it's a great deal."

Sinift said more than 40,000 people already have registered online for the expo.

"Most are not afraid of this," he said.

Sinift said representatives from CompuSystems, the Illinois company that designed and is implementing the registration system, will assist in registering people.

Another benefit: The pass also can be used for admission to one of the 2008 West Coast National Pulling Series at the Tulare County Fairgrounds Tuesday and Wednesday. That's a $12 savings.

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