BY HARRIS BLACKWOOD
ATLANTA — The poultry world is descending on Atlanta this week. If it involves a chicken: hatching, feeding, growing, processing, deboning, freezing and doing away with what’s left over, you can see it at the 60th annual International Poultry Expo and International Feed Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center.
The show, which opens today for the first of three days, draws 18,000 visitors and 900 exhibitors. Exhibit space ranges from a tabletop booth to a fully functioning poultry processing plant.
The expo represents every segment of the poultry and egg industry. The event is co-located with the International Feed Expo for the second year in a row and will feature educational programs, cooking demonstrations, an expo for college students and keynote speakers including U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez.
When the show started 60 years ago, the poultry industry was in its infancy, and there was no place like the massive World Congress Center. The first shows were held in the old Atlanta Municipal Auditorium, which is now a part of the campus of Georgia State University. The show moved to the Atlanta Civic Center before coming to its current home.
The show now encompasses two of the World Congress Center’s giant exhibit halls and is one of the largest business exhibitions held in Atlanta.
"Atlanta is the perfect home for IPE, and we are proud to continually host their annual event," said Spurgeon Richardson, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The city has grown with the convention and has been able to offer attendees a different experience every year."
The 2007 IPE/IFE brought attendees from 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 90 countries. The 2007 show attendance was the largest in five years.
There were 15,668 domestic attendees and 3,977 international guests. Georgia, Illinois, Alabama, North Carolina and Texas were the states with the largest contingents. Four states sent 100 more attendees than they did the previous year: Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas.
The largest international groups came from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil.
"It’s the biggest poultry show in the world," said Abit Massey, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation. "It’s an important event to our Georgia poultry industry."
The expo will have two special pavilions to highlight the latest in resource innovation. The new program, Eco-
Innovation, will spotlight issues such as using poultry litter for fertilizer or fuel, using poultry fat as bio-fuel, fluorescent lighting, wastewater recycling, and high efficiency motors and equipment.
Outside the pavilions, both the B and C halls of the Georgia World Congress Center will showcase exhibitors who specialize in improving efficiency and utilizing natural resources.
In addition to commercial exhibits, there will be educational displays providing information on current and future conservation technologies.
On-site registration for the expo is $50; however, poultry growers who present a special coupon or GWCC will be admitted on any of the days for only $5. The coupons have been appearing in the Poultry Times, a sister publication of The Times.
On Thursday, a free shuttle bus will depart from Oakwood at 8 a.m. for growers and allied industry employees. A limited number of seats remain available through the Georgia Poultry Federation at 770- 532-0473.
The Poultry Times contributed to this report.