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More than 19,000 expected at poultry expo
Event has more than 900 exhibitors
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2011 International Poultry Expo

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday
Where: Georgia World Congress Center, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. NW, Atlanta
Info: Click here for more information.

Poultry lovers from around the world have flocked to Atlanta this week for the 62nd annual International Poultry Expo.

More than 900 exhibitors set up shop for the three-day event, which begins today. Last year, about 19,000 people attended and organizers are expecting an even bigger turnout this year.

The expo was first held at the old Atlanta Municipal Auditorium, now a part of the Georgia State University's campus. The show later moved to the Atlanta Civic Center and then to its current home, the Georgia World Congress Center.

Today, it's one of the largest business exhibitions in Atlanta.

The 2011 exhibitor list stretches on for more than 20 pages and covers the poultry industry from breeding to hatching to processing.

Several Gainesville companies and organizations are in the mix, including Avian Technology International, Cantrell, Prince Industries, Gainco, Merial Select, Morris Hatchery and even the Gainesville Spring Chicken Festival.

"It's a great opportunity for everyone in the industry to come together and learn about innovations and trends in the industry," said Mark Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation.

"There's very good participation from all different sectors of the poultry industry."

Delegates at the 2010 expo hailed from nearly 100 countries. Nearly 3,900 attendees were international, with the largest groups coming from Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and China.

Four states had more than 700 attendees: Illinois, North Carolina, Arkansas and Alabama. About 4,200 people traveled from all over Georgia to take part in the event.

For the first time this year, a hatchery and breeder clinic will be included in the expo. That event is normally held separately, but officials from the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association decided to make it a part of the expo this year.

The exhibition will also include a pet food conference, a salmonella and campylobacter reduction conference and an international feed education program, among other seminars.

Gene Anderson, former coordinator of the Hall County Extension, said it's no accident the event is so close to Gainesville, considering the strength of the poultry industry here.

"It is a tremendous advantage for Gainesville to be there because it's an international show and people involved in all facets of the poultry festival are there every year," he said. "It's a great place for contacts to be made."

His one piece of advice for an attendee: wear comfortable shoes. One of the first years he went, he underestimated the expo's size and went home with aching feet.

"I thought I was done," he said. "And I realized I hadn't even been into the second exhibit hall."

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