The Mid-MO Expo for small farmers and gardeners was so crowded Saturday, people sat on the floors of classrooms to hear experts talk — that is, if they even got into the session at Battle High School.

Kent Shannon, one of the event organizers, said Friday that more than 160 people were registered — nearly quadruple the number who attended last year, and more than had shown up since the expo began four years ago.

"I think we just hit the right time and citizens have gotten the word out," Shannon said.

Attendees didn't seem to mind the crowd.

"We're having a great time. It seems to be a very well-attended event," said Linda Behrens, a first time attendee.

The expo is meant to teach people about different topics related to farming and gardening. It featured 20 different sessions taught by experts focusing on anything from snakes in Missouri to using drones in farming to the basics of composting.

"The educational program is exceptional and that is really nice for the community to come and see local experts and learn things that help them with their properties," Susan Johnson, a member of the Missouri Master Naturalist program, said. 

Every year, the event features a combination of new topics and past favorites. One that keeps coming back is David Trinklein's session, "Grow Bigger and Better Tomatoes." Trinklein said the reason it's so popular is because "tomatoes are America's No. 1 home garden vegetable."

Trinklein said he still tries to mix things up every year so there's always something new to learn.

Nancy Franklin has attended the Mid-MO Expo every year since it started. This year, she and her husband were learning about solutions to an invasive species infestation they were made aware of at last year's expo.

"Every year is different, every year is great," she said. "Everything builds year after year."

Franklin also said this year seemed to be the best yet in terms of attendance as well as vendors and interesting topics.

"It seems to be a better-rounded expo this year than it was last year," she said, "which I'm really happy to see because I love to see this thing keep growing." 

While Johnson said she expected more crowds as the day went on, she also said the nice weather outside could possibly work against them. 

"When you're interested in nature and you get a little sunshine for the first time in a while, you're kind of going to want to be out in it," she said.

  • Public life reporter, fall 2020. Studying print and digital news journalism. Reach me at skylarlaird@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720

  • Molly Hart is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. She has previously reported on state government. She can be reached at mhart@mail.missouri.edu.

  • As senior editor of the Missourian, Fred Anklam manages general assignment reporters. He can be reached at anklamf@missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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