DURANT – The numbers are in and Durant’s first agricultural trade show in more than a decade, the Choctaw Nation Ag Expo, proved there is enough interest to bring it back again in 2019.
According to Jody House, Agriculture Outreach Manager for the Choctaw Nation, there were more than 500 attending the event that included 49 vendors and 50-plus door prizes provided by the vendors. Among those door prizes were an upright smoker and three new chainsaws.
The public event, held Aug. 4 at the Choctaw Nation Event Center in Durant, was organized by the Choctaw Nation Agriculture Outreach Program to bring together in one place agricultural resources and professionals to help farmers and ranchers of the community. Two speaker sessions provided information for multi-acre agri-businesses and backyard gardeners alike. One featured Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service representatives discussing “Alternative Structures for the Home Garden”; the other with the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave updates on programs and services offered to assist producers.
“As for next year we hope to able to do it again,” House said. “We thought the event was a success and received lots of positive feedback from the vendors and patrons.”
Vendors set up shiny new horse trailers, farm machinery, home improvement equipment and booths for insurance specializing in agricultural needs, home gardening tips, jewelry, canned goods, cleaning products and much more.
“We’re here to promote beef,” said Patti Townsend of the Oklahoma Cattle Women. “Anyone can join. We meet four times a year, sell rib-eyes at the Tulsa State Fair, provide scholarships and set up booths like this.”
Another non-profit booth was for Oklahoma Small Business Development Centers.
“We are joined today with the Oklahoma State University Extension Service. We sometimes set up together to offer help to people in the ag business,” said James Arati, SBDC Advisor out of Norman. “My degree is in Ag Business from the University of Wisconsin,” said the Kenya native. He also noted that there is a regional SBDC office in Durant located on the campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
The Ag Expo was also an educational opportunity for a family from Crystal.
Isaac Vancil and his daughter Isabel were searching for a Choctaw language-specific booth. His wife and other daughter were in another section of the hall.
“Our children are home schooled and one of the things they are studying is Choctaw,” Vancil said. “My wife is Choctaw.” Isabel, 16, will graduate this year. The family seemed to stop and check out every booth.
One of the busiest sites on the floor was a full-sized simulated cow called Bessie that allowed one gleeful child after another to actually go through the motions of milking. Another highly visible teen activity was the concessions stand, a fundraiser operated by the FFA. All ages from across southeastern Oklahoma and north Texas were in attendance at the Ag Expo, demonstrating the strength and appeal of the agricultural lifestyle.
To find out more about the Choctaw Nation Agriculture Outreach program and the Choctaw Nation Ag Expo, contact Jody House, Agriculture Outreach Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.