Holding the National FFA Convention in Indiana, in Indianapolis, is a tremendous plum for Indiana to pick off. No doubt it started when the National FFA Center was courted to move here, and did so, locating near Dow AgroSciences on the northwest side of the city.
For more than six decades, the largest of all youth conventions was held in Kansas City. Mo. Then it moved to Louisville, Ky. Now it's here in Indianapolis, at least for six more years. City officials in Indianapolis proclaimed it the largest convention of any type every held in the city. That's saying a lot for a city that prides itself on tourism, and has learned how to compete globally for convention business.
However, some ag advisors at last year's Louisville national convention for FFA expressed concern that parking, transportation and the like would be tougher in Indianapolis. The Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville allows many of the judging activities that go along with the convention to happen on one sight, without excessive juggling of students.
So how did the first run in Indianapolis go? Here's a sampling heard while mingling in Indianapolis during the convention.
"I really like the attitude of people we've run into have toward us here," says Tamara Webb, Kingsville, Texas, a small town in southern Texas. "It's a lot different than what I'm used to, but I like it here."
Added Ellie Titus, Ferndale, Cal., "They're accommodating us very well. Indianapolis is making this work. Louisville was a great experience, but Indianapolis greeted us with equally open arms."
Said one girl from the South, walking with her friends near the RCA Dome on a chilly, drizzly Thursday last week, "We're having fun. But it's just cold here."
Adults weighed in as well. "We haven't gotten the traffic we expected in cars, because so many of the kids came on buses," says Jeff Williams, manager of a Denison Parking Facility directly across the street from the Indiana Convention Center. Yet his lot was full for a good part of the day on Thursday.
Adds a vo-ag teacher from central Indiana, "It's worked out better than I expected, although personally, I just really liked the set-up in Louisville."
No doubt more word will filter in the days ahead. But as far as kids are concerned, the National FFA Convention is a hit wherever it's held.