Regional agricultural show draws growers, ranchers from four states
Displays at trade show booths seldom startle passersby, making them jump and their eyes go wide.
“I get that reaction a lot at shows,” said Brad Felger, gently stroking the head of his gyr falcon, Hoko. He was advertising for Airstrike Bird Control, Inc., and his passion, falconry, at the Eastern Washington Ag Expo held Jan. 5 and 6 at TRAC in Pasco.
[blockquote quote=”Rebranding the show as Eastern Washington instead of Pasco gives it more of a regional flavor.” source=”Colin Hastings, executive director of the Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce” align=”right” max_width=”300px”]
Hoko and the other 80 or so falcons and hawks owned by Felger provide orchardists a valuable service by scaring off flocks of European starlings, finches and other birds from trees full of ripening cherries, peaches and other tree fruits and berries.
Airstrike Bird Control also has falconers in Oregon, California and Pennsylvania.
Felger lives in Conway, Wash., near Mt. Vernon, but travels all over Washington attending ag shows and flying his birds during harvest.
“It doesn’t take many falcons or hawks to send starlings on their way,” he said.
All of Felger’s birds were bred in captivity. By law, falconers can’t use captured wild birds for avian abatement.
Felger said these working birds are flown when they’re hungry and looking for a meal.
“Otherwise they’ll just go and sit on a post and watch the scenery,” he joked.
This is the first time in about five years he’s attended the Expo.
“So far there’s been a lot of interest,” he said.
Felger, who was recently elected president of the Washington Falconers Association, said there are about 240 licensed falconers in the state.
“And the number is growing,” he said.
The Eastern Washington Ag Expo is also growing said Colin Hastings, executive director of the Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce.
There were more than 125 vendors this year and 1,900 people attended, which was more than last year, Hastings said.
This year the Expo’s name was changed to the Eastern Washington Ag Expo.
“We did that to reflect the fact that we’re now drawing in people from throughout Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon and further up north, even into Idaho and Montana. Rebranding the show as Eastern Washington instead of Pasco gives it more of a regional flavor,” said Hastings.
Several vendors offered samples of produce and other Mid-Columbia foods, also something new this year. Hastings said it was a popular addition to the Expo and he expects to see more vendors offering samples next year.
The various seminars offered during the Expo were well attended.
“I believe one of the bigger draws for them was the caliber of the professional speakers we had on precision agriculture, how to precisely measure the fertilizer, the water necessary, and when to apply them those are the discussions that are trending in agriculture today,” Hastings said.
Competitions for the sixth annual Lyle Holt Scholarships were also held during the Expo. Winners were Lacey Desserault and Tye Taylor, both of Prosser High School and Riley Reed of Connell High School. They will split $3,300 in scholarship funds.
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For more information about the Eastern Washington Ag Expo visit www.easternwaagexpo.com.