For more than 40 years, Willie German never missed a trip to Memphis, Tenn., for the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show. Of course, COVID ruined his streak when the pandemic forced organizers to move to a virtual format in 2021. Willie attended online but said it wasn’t the same. It has made him anticipate the 2022 show all the more.
“For me the best part of the Gin Show is rekindling old friendships — getting to see friends you might only see one time a year at this event,” said the Tennessee row crop producer. “You can’t do that virtually, so I’m really looking forward to this year’s show.”
I’m sure Willie’s comments reflect the feelings of many of our readers who missed their annual trip to downtown Memphis last year. Organizers are expecting a big crowd when the in-person show resumes next week. With lots of people expected and so much to do, I asked Willie to share his advice for making the most of the Gin Show weekend.
Willie said he always arrives to the Gin Show early Friday morning to catch the Ag Outlook meeting — particularly the presentation by Joe Nicosia, vice president of Louis Dreyfus Co. The rest of the day is spent walking the expansive trade show, looking at equipment, meeting up with old friends, making new connections, and filling a swag bag with free giveaways. This will be the first Gin Show to take place since renovations to the Renasant Convention Center were completed.
After the Gin Show concludes on Friday at 5 p.m., the other gin show begins. (And for most, this one involves a lot more gin.) This is the time to try out the downtown food scene and nightlife. But if you’re as well-known as Willie, invitations to different companies’ hospitality receptions abound. In fact, he said he no longer does a sit-down meal, instead bouncing between the hospitality rooms to see as many folks as he can.
Like most other Gin Show attendees, he’ll eventually end up at the Peabody Hotel — visiting with more friends and enjoying a live band. If you’re not ready to call it a night when the band is through, Willie recommends Raiford’s Disco, just a short walk from the Peabody on Second Street.
It’s a late night, but an early morning on Saturday. Wille said it’s worth the lost sleep to get back to the Renasant by 8:30 a.m. to hear the grain market outlook from Richard Brock. Afterwards, he recommends returning to the trade show to see what you missed on Friday. He usually enjoys lunch at Charlie Vergos’ Rendevous before heading home Saturday afternoon because, as he put it, one night is plenty.
“It’s a good time. I’ve been going since I was in college, and I still look forward to it every year,” he said.