Since the Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO) is taking place this month in Louisville, Ky., I will take you on a trip down memory or educational lane, depending on how long you’ve been attending this awesome annual industry event.
Before we take that stroll, I want to reiterate what many people are saying about former Stihl Inc. president and industry leader, Fred Whyte, following his recent passing. I am proud to say that Fred was a friend of mine, and the combination of his leadership and demeanor will probably never be replaced. GIE+EXPO represented a place for him to see his dealers and friends, and I know he will be watching over all of us at the show this year. Thank you, Mr. Whyte.
On a lighter note, I was __ years old when I first went to the show, which started as the International Lawn, Garden & Power Equipment Expo (EXPO) before it merged with the Green Industry Expo (GIE) to become GIE+EXPO. Hard to believe that __ years later, I would still be going to the Louisville show. In the beginning, the show took up the Kentucky Exposition Center, which was one building, and the outdoor demo area. The building also included Freedom Hall, where the University of Louisville played basketball.
Growth of the show has been good for the town of Louisville. The Kentucky Exposition Center has grown with the show, making Louisville a great place to host this event. Needing an outdoor exhibit area next to indoor exhibit space made Louisville a prime location. With Louisville located near the center of the country, a lot of people “should” be able to get there.
Now for some of my favorite booths from the past __ years. My all-time favorite booth featured riding mowers made up like airplanes, racecars, etc. At least I think they had lawn mowers. Standing at each corner of the booth were bikini-clad girls (models), who were handing out literature. The aisles surrounding the booth were so crowded that it caused problems for the neighboring booths. Once the attendees came to see the models (I mean mowers), they left the area talking about it.
Autolite conducted an outdoor track and held various races for prizes. Kohler had brats and a ventriloquist with a puppet, teaching the hungry crowd about their engines. Hoffco gave out walking sticks made out of old trimmer shafts. And Stihl Inc. now gives away big money ($5,000 to one lucky winner on Dealer Day)!
Whether you’re a first timer or an old timer, the show is still considered to be the best resource for new products, ideas and a chance to see old friends. If you’re looking to try a product line, the 20-plus-acre outside demo area is ideal for you.
When the show was held in July, you could expect true Louisville scorchers. It was so hot and humid. The move to October has been a great change to the show. Cooler and less-humid conditions make even the crabbiest lawn and garden dealers happier!
And finally, when you go to the show, take in the sites of Louisville. If you’re into bourbon — or at least the story behind bourbon — take the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. They recommend three days to see all nine historic distilleries. The mother of all horse races, the Kentucky Derby, takes place at historic Churchill Downs. Stop by the track for a Mint Julep.
There is always plenty of entertainment at the show, and this year is no different. After show hours, be sure to head downtown to Fourth Street Live! It is the happening place where free concerts will be held each night. Another highlight of the town belongs to its favorite son memorialized at The Muhammad Ali Center. Mr. Ali was not just a boxer; he was also an ambassador for goodness. And finally, you can’t go to Louisville without visiting The Louisville Slugger Museum.
Until next month, keep your blades and mind sharp, and I’ll see you in Kentucky! (But you won’t know if you see me!)