TULARE, Calif. -- World Ag Expo officials closed the 40th anniversary show last week saying that World Ag Expo's special events were excellent, attendance was strong, and exhibitors were successful.

Opening day on Tuesday brought famous faces to the grounds and the beginning of a celebration of 40 years of innovative agriculture. Dignitaries from around the world, including state and federal representatives and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani delivered remarks at opening ceremonies.

Following opening ceremonies, Mayor Giuliani toured the Expo with Bruce Shannon, 2007 World Ag Expo chairman, and held a brief press conference declaring "Yes, I am," when asked about running in the presidential race.

"It was an incredible experience. He was really interested in what the show had to offer, what exhibitors were selling, and what all of this means to farmers," Shannon said.

As the gates closed on opening day, the Expo broke its first record. For the first time in show history, World Ag Expo welcomed 565 international attendees representing 57 countries, in just one day.

"This record one-day attendance is a true testament to the global atmosphere of agriculture. Whether they grow 20 or 20,000 acres, a farmer's marketplace spans the globe. We are happy to bring the world's farmers together to share ideas and innovations," said Jana Hopper, director of international marketing for World Ag Expo.

Countries such as Mexico, Canada, China, Australia and Ukraine sent some of the largest delegations to the Expo. Special guests included Croatia's minister of agriculture, forestry and water management - the highest-ranking dignitary ever to attend the Expo from Croatia, and the Nigerian executive governors from Bauchi State and Yobe State governments.

The Expo was also host to an array of free dairy, irrigation and ag-related seminars. Some of the most important and well-attended sessions focused on water and trade issues. Other seminars highlighted the farm bill, irrigation systems, and alternative fuel sources.

"We like to spend a lot of time talking about the numbers, but the quality of attendees was excellent this year. We've had exhibitors say they are really impressed with the serious buyers they had coming into their booths at the Expo," Shannon said.

The final day of World Ag Expo welcomed hundreds of high school students. The Expo and Fastenal's Ag Mechanics Mini Match brought out more than 120 FFA competitors. The contest tested students' skills in tool identification and other areas of agricultural mechanics. At the end of the day, Fastenal awarded more than $2,500 in tools and equipment to be used in the winners' high school mechanics classes.

"In all my years of coordinating contests, I have never seen such great awards presented. This was a great contest," said Ken Heupel, contest volunteer coordinator.

In 2008, Expo officials will unveil an additional 100,000 square feet of dairy exhibits, adding 130 new dairy exhibits to the ground's already 500 exhibit spaces. The majority of new exhibit space will be in the Dairy Technology Center. The expansion will increase the overall Expo exhibit space to 2.6 million square feet.

"We want to help our exhibitors do more business then ever before," said Shelley Khal, 2008 World Ag Expo chairman. "We'll be taking a very serious look at our international marketing efforts to help drive international attendees to certain hot spots, like our dairy center."

The World Ag Expo includes more than 2.5 million square feet of exhibit space, 1,600+ exhibitors and 100,000 attendees from 66 different countries. The 2008 World Ag Expo will be held Feb. 12-14.

SOURCE: World Ag Expo via AgPR.