If I didn’t know better, I’d say Florida really isn’t warm—it’s just a very clever and effective attempt for the Sunshine State leaders to attract tourists to their state before charging them Florida tourism taxes. For a couple nights at the Potato Expo 2012, held Jan. 5–7 at Loews Royal Pacific Resort in Orlando, Fla., it felt just like eastern Idaho in January.
Those of us who attended the Expo this year should’ve expected it by now. Murphy’s Law is as common on the farm as gravity. As we all remember two years ago, Florida experienced what became a record-setting cold spell during Potato Expo 2010. Potato growers and industry leaders from around the country and a dozen countries, in an attempt to escape the harsh winter climates with which they’re accustomed, were surprised to discover that, yes, it is possible for Florida to get cold.
But that was a fluke, right?
Um, maybe not.
Earlier this year, as we started arriving in Orlando in droves, Mother Nature, in a practical joke she must’ve thought was funny, decided to send the same cold snap to Orlando during the same week—but for just a couple nights this time. (I’m happy to report I was prepared with my skiing coat!)
Between hearing from former Florida governor and presidential kin Jeb Bush during the keynote lunch address and getting pictures taken with Superman and Wonder Woman in the trade show, the event was quite eventful. During the tradeshow, many companies debuted new products and services, including AgSort’s new E-Sorter and Bayer CropScience’s Good Growing Link. Friendships were begun while other friendships were strengthened.
Bayer CropScience hosted the Thursday evening night out, in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter inside Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure. Somebody must’ve pulled some strings (or paid somebody under the table), because Mother Nature withdrew the cold weather, leaving a pleasant, moon-filled evening inside a Hogsmead village replica. After everyone was well-fed with food, drinks and dessert, they browsed shops and had full access to three Harry Potter-themed rides. The “Flight of the Hippogriff” was an enjoyable, outdoor rollercoaster ride, but the “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ride inside Hogwarts wasn’t for those with motion sickness. (Or a fear of spiders. Or Dementors. Or dragons.) To cap it off, the Dragon Challenge lived up to the name. Many enjoyed it, many wisely stayed away and some tried it out and found themselves spending the rest of the evening recovering. (I am also happy to report I made it. Once.)
We were also treated to free “Butterbeer,” and were allowed to keep the decorative glass. A crème soda with a butterscotch-flavored foam drizzled on top, the first sip was sugar overload. I think I’m still coming off my sugar high. I swear I only had two glasses.
While we aren’t scheduled to return to Orlando for a Potato Expo in the near future, I’m looking forward to the day we return.
And when we do, I’ll bring my winter clothes.