It is never too early start thinking about next year’s Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference. In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, industry leaders like Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, must start thinking about an event still several months away.
“We’re operating on the premise that we’re going to have a show in January in Savannah (Georgia). But we’re looking at, if the outbreak doesn’t calm down, if the requirements are such that we can’t hold the show, we’re looking at what the options are,” Hall said. “We’re just trying to do some preliminary, looking at different ways of doing that and whether we have virtual shows, live presentations. We’re just hoping that things calm down enough that we can have the show and get things going from there.”
Scheduled for Jan. 7-10
The conference is slated to be held in Savannah, Georgia on Jan. 7-10. It’s one of the largest events in the Southeast. It attracts 3,200 attendees and 280 companies that have booths to showcase their agricultural products.
Hall believes a final decision will be made in the fall on whether the conference will be in-person or virtual. A lot will depend on the availability of companies being able to travel for meetings at that point.
“If some of the national companies make the decision that their employees can’t travel in January, that will begin to affect our decision of whether we do with the conference,” Hall said. “We will have a conference. The real question is, hopefully, we’ll have an in-person conference and not a virtual conference.”
The other dilemma is if the conference proceeds as normal, how will social distancing guidelines be followed with that many people expected to attend?
“Right now, if we had that conference in Savannah, you would have to be at a 50-person maximum in a room. I think is what the requirements are, and then they have to be social distancing. Those classrooms have been wall-to-wall people and they’re standing along the sides, you can’t have that many people in a classroom right now,” Hall said.