INDIANAPOLIS — The National FFA Convention and Expo runs Wednesday through Saturday, October 30th in downtown Indianapolis.
More than 50,000 people are expected to make their way to the Indiana Convention Center throughout the next few days. The 94th annual event highlights the accomplishments, advancements and education within the agriculture industry and its young students.
The convention, which was completely virtual last year, returns in-person with a few changes in place.
“We had a lot of conversation during the first quarter of the year, watching all of everything that was still going on with the pandemic, listening and learning from other states and what they were doing as far as their state conventions. Also myself, working with several others who hold conventions here in Indianapolis, working with the city,” said Mandy Hazlett, associate director of convention and events.
This year’s event includes both in-person and virtual elements, along with scaling back on a few parts.
“We switched and did a big portion of our competitive events virtually, still, this year,” Hazlett said. “Those took place during the month of August and September, thus eliminating some of those competitive events, logistically, to happen here on site.”
“This year we did keep an educational track virtually,” she added. “Our now famous FFA Blue Room is actually just a virtual 3D experience again this year. So we’re really excited for that launch on Wednesday as well. So even for those, who aren’t going to be here in person, we have quite a program for them to participate in back home, so it’s been a long road.”
Organizers also included a mask mandate for all in-person events during the course of the next few days.
“That is for every single day, every event we have going on, including our entertainment events in the evening, but for anyone participating in our event this week, we do have a mask mandate for everyone,” Hazlett said.
Last year’s virtual event brought in more than 200,000 people. Hazlett says they still expect high numbers for their virtual elements, but it’s exciting to be back in-person and honor the work of the agriculture industry following a tough year.
“We had a lot of businesses that if you were critical to the human life to continue going, then your business could stay open, and one of those critical points is food and products.” Hazlett said. “Those foods and products don’t come to the store shelves without somebody growing and making them, delivering them, and so it was critical for that whole industry to keep going.”
“Our Ag community switched gears just like everybody else had to and how quickly they did it. To really keep the Ag industry moving, to keep individuals connected, to keep Ag education moving forward, and so this week of finally having a chance to come back together…. It’s also a little bit of a celebration of that resiliency,” she added.
During a news conference on Tuesday, city leaders said this year’s convention is one of the biggest to happen in 2021, bringing in about $30 million. Compared to last year, officials say Indy’s convention numbers are significantly higher and show signs of an expected full recovery by the end of 2022.