Friday, February 24, 2006

Where's your sign?

For people who don’t know about Capital Press, our name can be a bit hard to figure out.

Why would a newspaper that covers agriculture be called Capital Press? It sound like we should be covering politics and government. We do often have stories about government when it relates to agriculture in Western states, but the emphasis is on farming and ranching, not government.

We cover the boots-and-coveralls set not the suit-and-tie crowd.

Since coming to work here, I’ve heard the story of where the name came from several times. Capital Press was established in 78 years ago this month, in 1928, as a neighborhood newspaper in the Hollywood district of Salem, Ore. The original name of the paper was the Hollywood Press.

Former publisher Mike Forrester wrote about the history of the paper in a special 75th anniversary section published three years ago. He certainly can tell the story better than I can. You can read the story for yourself

In my youth, my dad was a Capital Press subscriber. So long before I pondered a working for a newspaper I knew Capital Press as an ag publication. But Capital Press has since expanded into Idaho and California and with the Internet, people around the world can read stories from Capital Press, but may find the name confusing.

A while back I noticed something that finally helped the name make sense for me. I discovered something that tied Capital Press and agriculture together at their very roots.

One day while driving down Interstate 5, I received a sign. Well, actually I read a sign posted along the side of the road. As I crossed the line into Linn County, Ore., there is was. The sign proudly stated that I was entering Linn County, the grass seed capital of the world.


Capital Press, covering the agriculture capitals of the West.

I got it.

But then I promptly lost it again. Life went on and I forget the epiphany.

Then last week I was driving up Highway 99 in Fresno County, Calif. with Denita Wallace, major account representative for the Capital Press, when we came upon the billboard that proclaimed Selma as the raisin capital of the world.

Deja bingo.

There are dozens of capitals like that all over the West.

So I want to start a collection of photos of signs and billboards from all the different commodity capitals around the West. And for that I need your help. If you see a photo of one of these capital signs, snap off a picture and send it to me. You can e-mail them to me at
gwest[at]capitalpress[dot]com. Let me know your name and details about where you found the sign and I will post them here on the website.

What do you think? Does that sound like a capital idea?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Tulare show comes to a close

TULARE, Calif. -- In the next few minutes, the curtain will fall on the 2006 World Ag Expo here in Tulare.

Show Chairman Erin Ferguson said this afternoon that he expects once the final attendance figures are tallies, the 2006 show is likely to set new records.

Ferguson said Wednesday's attendance was the biggest one-day attendance in show history.

Read more about the 2006 show in the Feb. 16 and Feb. 24 editions of Capital Press and back here online at

So, for now, so long from Tulare and the World Ag Expo.

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Frost greets final day of World Ag Expo

Yes, it's still winter and Mother Nature made sure to remind Central Valley growers and attendees of the World Ag Expo of that fact overnight, as frost descended on the vast Central Valley.

Temperatures in the mid to upper 20s have been reported around the San Joaquin Valley overnight, threatening some crops that had already started sprouting and blooming after unseasonably warm weather over the past week.

Now the temperatures have dropped to unseasonably cool temperatures.

Some areas of the valley could see frost again tonight.

But that's not keeping people from the World Ag Expo for its final day today. They have just remembered to bring jackets today.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Day 2 in Tulare winding down

The second day of the 2006 World Ag Expo is almost at an end. The crowds on the grounds are thinning and the long lines of traffic away from the International Agri-Center are growing on a day highlighted by the visit of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The international action-movie star was perhaps a fitting guest on a day that highlighted seminars on international trade.

The Wednesday session of the 2006 Expo still enjoyed sunny weather, but cooler, more seasonal temperatures have returned to Tulare, after a week of decidedly spring-like weather. Even many of the fruit and nut trees throughout the valley give the illusion of spring with their buds bursting into bloom.

But chillier, more blustery weather has returned, with temperatures in the 50s. Weather forecasters are calling for an even cooler day for Thursday's final day of the Expo.

By walking around the grounds today it was easy to get the impression that people came to buy things today. On Tuesday it was possible to see many people carrying a bag or two of booty from the giveaways being offered at the various exhibitors’ booths. But today there were many more people carrying more and larger bags, tool boxes, tree spikes and assortment of other farm or garden goods.

Sweatshirts at the souvenir booths were also popular on this chilly day.

But the governor's visit undoubtedly caused the most excitement of the day. Schwarzenegger was also responsible for the faux paux of the day.

During remarks to the large crowd gathered around the Reynolds International booth where Schwarzenegger spoke, the governor was introducing some of the other dignitaries who were part of the formal entourage.

He mistakenly referred to World Ag Expo Chairman Erin Ferguson as "she" during his remarks.

Well, that's it from Tulare today. We'll check in again tomorrow for the final day of the World Ag Expo.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

First day of Tulare comes to a close

TULARE, Calif. -- The first day of the World Ag Expo has come to a close, with buzz building about Wednesday's scheduled visit from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But make no mistake, at Tulare the expo itself is the star.

I'm not sure how how anyone can possibly see it all and do it all in only three days. And if there is any piece of farm equipment, technology or type of service not on display at the farm show, you'd be hard-pressed to figure you what it would be. You can test drive precision ag equipped tractors that will keep your rows straight or software specifically for agribusiness.

But no trip to this part of the San Joaquin Valley would be complete without getting a taste of the region and munching on a tri-tip sandwich.

Yes, the area around Tulare is known for lots of ag commodities, including dairy milk, olives, oranges and other citrus groves, raisin grapes and nut trees, but no large gathering featuring food is complete without tri-tip.

So much for my diet, but there are also plenty of opportunities to get exercise trying to cover the World Ag Expo grounds.

I'm ready for a nap.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Go to Tulare, see the world

If I ever had any doubt whether the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., is a global event, my mom would have put that to rest this week.

I got an e-mail message from my mother yesterday, saying I should look for her friend Max next week when I'm in Tulare for the Expo, which runs Feb. 14-16.

Max is a grower from Australia who is visiting the United States, and one of his stops will be the World Ag Expo.

He certainly won't be alone, as thousands of farmers, ranchers and agribusiness professionals will descend on the small San Joaquin Valley town for the mammoth farm show.

I'm thinking the odds I'll bump into Max are pretty slim.

But if you will be in Tulare next week, I can give you a few pointers on how you can find one or more of the 10 members of the Capital Press staff who will be there.

A good place to look would be at one of the two Capital Press booth located in the exhibit pavilions at the International Agri-Center grounds.

Editor and Publisher Elaine Shein will be leading the Capital Press delegation attending the Expo.

And if you can’t make it to the show, you can turn to the Capital Press and for coverage of some of the highlights of the 2006 Expo. Reporters Ali Bay and Chip Power will be providing details on the show in the Feb. 17 and Feb. 24 issues of Capital Press. And starting Tuesday, Bay, Power and I will post live updates and stories here on the Capital Press website. Our goal is to provide at least two updates each day, which will be quite a chore, because the show is so big and there is so much going on, it will be tough to break away to sit in front of a laptop to write for fear that we will miss something important or not see all there is to see in just three short days.

But we do want to share as much as we can of what we see and hear at the Expo with you, and this blog and the home page of our website will be where you can check in on some of the happenings in Tulare.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the show. It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the Tulare farm show. In fact the last time I was there, back in 1999 when I was editor of a daily newspaper in neighboring Porterville, the show had a different name. Back then the show was known as the California Farm Equipment Show and International Exposition.

Since then, the name got smaller, but the show has continued to grow.

So if we don’t see you in Tulare, you can see some of Tulare right here at

And if you see Max, tell him to look for me in a green Capital Press cap.

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