SPRINGFIELD, IL (AP)
The Illinois Pork Expo is coming back in Springfield for the first time in 33 years.
As many as 4,000 hog producers, industry representatives and vendors are expected for the Feb. 16-17 expo at the Prairie Capital Convention Center. It was last held in Springfield in 1983 and has been in Peoria each year since, the (Springfield) State Journal-Registerreported.
Illinois Pork Producers president Curt Zehr said organizers wanted to get producers closer to state legislators. This year's expo has been combined with an annual legislative lobby day traditionally held in March, he said, and the combined format should allow more producers to participate.
With the regulatory challenges facing the pork industry, organizers decided a combined event would be more effective, Zehr said.
'We want to be more relevant as an industry,' he said. 'We want to do a better job of telling our story to people.'
Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Gina Gemberling said she thinks a major renovation of the Prairie Capital Convention Center played a part in getting back the expo. Convention center general manager Brian Oaks said the expo is one of the biggest shows in Springfield this year.
'Over the past couple of years, they've come down to see the renovation,' Oaks said. 'We were really excited to hear they were coming back.'
Zehr said plans are for the annual expo to stay in Springfield.
'We don't have plans to go anywhere else,' he said. 'We're thinking we're going to stay here.'