BOSTON — The New England Produce Council's 14th annual expo was marked by a strong retail presence, a varied trade show and a keynote speech by a baseball hero.
Beginning with the opening cocktail party Tuesday evening, April 2, held at The State Room and sponsored by 4M Fruit Distributors in Everett, MA, the show got into high gear Wednesday morning, April 3, with a keynote speech by Tim Wakefield, a retired knuckleball pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
Mr. Wakefield told attendees a little about how he got into the Major Leagues, and how he got help from many others in attaining his success. "Never live in the past," he stated. "Move forward. Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely."
As attendees asked him questions after his prepared remarks, the retired pitcher lobbed signed baseballs to them as a thank you.
Another aspect of the New England Produce Council is its Career Pathways program, a partnership with the PMA Foundation, sponsored by Cheshire, CT-based Coast to Coast Produce in memory of that company's founder, Peter Sticco, who died in September 2008.
"We're very proud of the Career Pathways program," NEPC Executive Director Laura Sullivan told The Produce News after the show ended. Having the students from that program at the expo "has enhanced our show quite a bit," she said. "It was really a nice part of the show. It's a program that Peter would be very proud of."
Ms. Sullivan was equally happy with the show in general.
"Our cocktail reception was one of the largest we've ever had," she stated. "Tim Wakefield did a phenomenal job. I think the whole idea of the County Fair [theme] was good."
Concerning attendance, Ms. Sullivan said, "We have great support from the New England retailers. Since the first year, we've had a commitment from the New England retailers. And 14 years later, they're still here."
In addition, "We had retailers from outside New England as well," she added. "And they have continued to support our show from the beginning.