Going to the Gin Show… Who’s Bringing the Tonic and Limes?

March 1, 2010

Janice's nephew tries out a cotton picker for size in 2002. He’s grow a lot since then in both size & awareness in agriculture.

This past weekend was the big farm show here in my backyard, Memphis, TN.  This one is usually abbreviated as the Gin Show though and that tends to get unique looks or comments from folks.  And next month there’s a gin show in Texas.  And yes, with my sense of humor, I’ve been known to joke about being on point for the limes (far easier to carry in a backpack than tonic would be!)  But I love that shows like this one give me a chance to talk to my non-farm connected friends and family about agriculture.

So what is a gin show?  It’s a cotton thing.  And yes, it relates to the cotton gin, not the alcohol.

Eli Whitney is the brilliant mind behind the cotton gin.  After the cotton gin was developed, the Southern U.S. was able to mechanize the processing of cotton in a way that would have incredible impacts on our economy.  While the history of cotton is something I relish in learning about and sharing, let me get back to today and what the gin show is about.

This year, US farmers are expected to plant 10 million acres of cotton.  The fact is, cotton gins are very specialized equipment and there are only about 700 cotton gins in the country, according to the National Cotton Council.

The gin shows in Memphis and Texas probably started as a way to give ginners a chance to see the latest equipment and meetings were held to talk about topics of interest to ginners.  The shows have grown over time and now include representatives from hundreds of companies that farmers and ginners buy products from.   For many, it’s a chance to talk about our industry or show people what the cotton business is about.  I had a chance to talk to farmers, crop consultants, media, etc about what is happening with cotton and our business.

Talking with the farmers who plant our seed or use our products is a major motivator for me.  I love to hear what they are doing on the farm. I see the gin show as a great part of my education and I love to share that experience with others.

With the gin show being right in my hometown, I had the chance to bring my niece & nephew along several times.  We talk about how the different machines are used and how farmers produce our food, fiber, feed and fuel.  Since they don’t get to farms as often as we’d like, some of these urban events can really help us reinforce what they’ve learned before.  And having gone to the gin show for years, they look forward to seeing equipment, talking to a few farmers and picking up some swag.  They are becoming great advocates for agriculture.  I think I’ll wait to teach them about the limes and tonic later though.

We would love to hear about some of the events that let you and members of your community learn about ag.  Please leave a comment here – you never know who may be in your area interested in learning a thing or two.

2 Responses to “Going to the Gin Show… Who’s Bringing the Tonic and Limes?”

  1. Curtis S. (for shirt) Says:

    Janice,
    Seeing the lime comment, when I was at the Gil Lab in Lubbock, Susan And I would go to Aggie Happy hour and folks would want to know what we did at that bif green building – new ways to make gin, new drinks, etc. After a lengthy explanation of saw spacings, grid bar configurations and the Eli Whitney story, they finally understood somewhat the business of cotton. The next question was ” I understand what you do, but what does Alan (Brashears) do? ” He works with the Strippers!”

    • Janice Says:

      You may have just given me a another topic because I bet a lot of folks looking at this won’t know strippers are pieces of harvesting equipment! I appreciate your taking time to talk through your experience with with the gin show on camera with me and will be getting that posted in the near future! Great having a friend who’s a ginner & a joker!


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