Mid-South 2014 Recap
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When the dust settled on the last day of the 15th Mid-South Forestry Equipment Show, staged a few miles south of here September 19-20, the consensus among exhibitors, attendees and sponsors was that it was an exciting high-octane event, one distinguished by smiling faces, enthusiasm, and a sense of restored confidence in the forest industry.
Total attendance was just north of 6,600, a record for the nation’s longest running live forestry equipment venue, according to Misty Booth, Show Manager and Mississippi State University (MSU) Forest Supervisor. This number included 400-plus students present on the show’s first day. Booth reported that 80 exhibitors, a number just shy of the record set in 2006, participated. Several reported making sales and many developed strong leads. One of the most pleased was Ken Murray, owner of Maxi-Load Scales, who wrote: ”Thanks to all who worked to put this together. Best show we have ever attended. Location is great, very well organized, attendance was strong, multiple units sold, and strong leads developed for future sales.”
This and other comments prompted Booth to say: “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the show. The weather was favorable, attendance was high, and exhibitor comments have been very positive. Many thanks go to our staff, volunteers, sponsors, partners, exhibitors, and attendees, all of whom made the 30th anniversary event a success.”
Most paying attendees overwhelmingly came from Mississippi, with Alabama a far distant second. Other states strongly represented were Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Iowa. A few came from as far away as Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, South Dakota and Oregon. In keeping with tradition, many entire families turned out. Even a few dogs were seen trotting about—one a passenger in a baby stroller.
“Just about everybody seemed satisfied,” remarked Cecil Johnson, director of the Mississippi Loggers Assn. (MLA), a sponsor partner of the event. In an attempt to keep paying visitors at the show longer on Saturday, MLA gave away two ‘you-must-be-present-to-win’ $1,000 cash prizes in early afternoon. The winners were Terry Roberson of Shubuta, Miss. and Josh White of Bay Springs, Miss. “I think the giveaways did help hold some people there,” he said.
Included in the admission fee were continuing education classes for loggers, foresters and landowners. According to MSU Extension Service officials, 682 loggers and 479 foresters participated. Classes were held in a tent located just beyond the live demo section, a plus for exhibitors in this area.
As usual, the food prepared and served by certain exhibitors on Saturday was a big hit. Hundreds lined up to partake of catfish, chicken and other meats and sides offered by B&G Equipment-Tigercat; Stribling Equipment-John Deere; Puckett Machinery-Thompson Machinery-Caterpillar, and Waters International Trucks-Barko. The Cat dealers and Waters designated all food receipts to Log-A-Load for Kids, turning in $3,913 and $600.50, respectively, to MLA. Caterpillar’s Loader Championship generated another $1,056 for the charity, which also benefitted from MLA’s sales of merchandise from its booth ($6,251) and from the show-sponsored ‘guess the weight’ contest ($144). Other substantial LAL sums came from merchandise sales at the Stribling-John Deere and B&G Equipment-Tigercat sites: $2,205 and $2,000, respectively. The grand LAL total generated amounted to $16,187.50, yet another record.
Lathan Padgett, Saluda, SC, took first place in the Caterpillar Loader Championship. His time was 2 minutes, 51.88 seconds in the first run and 2 minutes, 41.37 seconds in the trophy run. Jonathan Cutshall, Iuka, Miss., took second place with a final time of 2 minutes, 46.91 seconds, and Jason Cooper, Arcadia, Fla., finished third with a time of 2 minutes, 48.09 seconds.
Jared Burks, Louisville, Miss., won the skidder contest, sponsored by Stribling Equipment, and pocketed $500. Second place—good for $300—went to Eddie Johnson of Crystal Springs, Miss. Capturing third and $200 was D.J. Buckhault, Evergreen, Ala. Mid-South sponsors supplied the prize money.
In the ‘guess the weight’ contest, sponsored by Johnny Black Logging, Donnie Commer, Philadelphia, Miss., was spot-on with the hardwood pulpwood load, guessing the exact weight of 83,400 lbs. With the load of pine logs, there was a draw between Phil Seymer, Carthage, Miss., who guessed 84,320 lbs., and Chad Brown, Brookhaven, Miss., who guessed 84,200 lbs. The actual weight was 84,260.
Winners of the MLA/RMP Insurance door prizes were Josh Springs, Marie Raines, Sara and Brian Gregg, and Darrian O’Neal.
MLA Banquet, Awards
On Friday night the MLA held its biennial awards banquet in a tent on the show grounds. Some 215 loggers, family members and equipment representatives listened as Mississippi broadcasting personality Walt Grayson recalled some of the job-related experiences and takeaway lessons he has learned about life while doing his job.
Following Grayson’s remarks, MLA director Johnson announced several award winners. Logger of the Year honors for 2014 went to Buck Beach, owner of Harvey Beach & Son Logging, Natchez, Miss. Beach, who helped found the MLA in the late ’80s and who later served as its interim director for several years, and who was named National Outstanding Logger in the ’90s by the Forest Resources Assn., said the state honor meant more to him than the regional and national honors he has received. Stribling Equipment presented Beach with a Yeti cooler.
MLA also recognized the South Central District as its Log-A-Load District of the Year and the Southeastern District as its District of the Year. Accepting the respective awards were Jimmy Jones and Randy McInnis. The association also presented an appreciation award to Roy and Carmen Holder for their support and dedication to Log-A-Load auctions throughout the state.