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Variety of events and activities planned for Southern Innovations in Nashville

Those attending the Southeast Produce Council’s upcoming Southern Innovations event in Nashville, TN, can look forward to a full schedule of exciting business and social activities.

An opening reception will feature entertainment befitting Music City USA. There will be two workshops geared to the specific nature of this event. A former player and coach in the National Football League will deliver the keynote address. The second annual Next Generation Award will be presented. A sold-out trade show will feature the organic and foodservice sectors of the fresh produce industry.

David-SherrodDavid SherrodAnd that’s just the start.

The event, known as the Southern Innovations Organics & Foodservice Expo, will take place Sept. 6-8 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. “It’s just a beautiful setting,” David Sherrod, the council’s president and chief executive officer, told The Produce News.

“We’re excited to be in Music City,” he said. “We haven’t been there since 2011, and we’re glad to be back. And Nashville is in the heart of the Southeast Produce Council’s marketing area.”

Almost all of the events will take place at the Opryland.

Before the official opening of this year’s event, there will be a dinner Wednesday evening, Sept. 5, for the board of directors and those involved with one of the council’s premier programs, the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP.

Southern Roots, the council’s leadership program for women in produce, will hold a reception from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, featuring a presentation by Dan’l Mackey Almy of DMA Solutions Inc.

The Bash in the Nash Opening Reception will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m, with musical entertainment by Stevenson Everett.

On Friday, Sept. 7, there will two workshops, both moderated by Phil Lempert, known as the Supermarket Guru.

The first workshop, from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., is titled Conception to Table: How Menus are Created. Panelists are John Adler of Blue Apron, Stuart Tracy of Chick-fil-A and Tomasz Wosiak of TC Restaurant Group.

The second workshop, from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., is titled Organic Produce Merchandising. Panelists are Chris Dove, vice president of produce category, merchandising and pricing at Food Lion; Vic Savanello, vice president of produce at The Fresh Market Inc.; and Chris Keetch, director of produce and floral at Giant/Martin’s.

The general session and keynote luncheon will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., where SEPC Chairman Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa will give a brief overview on the state of the council.

Also during this session, Steve Spurrier will deliver the keynote address. Spurrier graduated from the University of Florida and won the Heisman Trophy in 1966. He played for 10 years in the National Football League, mostly with the San Francisco 49ers, and was the winningest coach in both Florida and South Carolina football history, according to information on the SEPC website.

The expo will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. “We have 91 organic/foodservice exhibitors,” said Sherrod, “and over 150 retail and foodservice buyers are expected to attend the sold-out expo.”

The last event Friday is the Chairman’s “Roots-N-Boots” Dinner Dance, where both the Warren Brothers and the 8South Band will provide musical entertainment.

Westfall will present certificates to the 2018 STEP-UPP graduating class, and will then announce the 12 members of the incoming 2019 class. Adam Lytch of L&M Cos. Inc., who received the first Next Generation Award at last year’s Southern Innovations event, will introduce the 17 nominees for this year’s award and will then announce the winner.

“We’re excited to give these young people some recognition,” said Sherrod. The council will also present service awards to the members of the board of directors who will be retiring. “That’s always bittersweet for us,” said Sherrod. “But with that comes the recognition and seating of the newly elected board members.”

And finally, outgoing Chairman Westfall will pass the gavel to incoming Chairman Steve Pinkston of Sunny Valley International, who will be joined by incoming Vice Chairman Harold Paivarinta of Red Sun Farms, incoming Secretary Brandon Parker of Shuman Produce and the new treasurer, who had not been name at the time of this interview.

On Saturday, Sept. 8, attendees can choose to participate from three wonderful activities: the Founders Memorial Golf Tournament at the Gaylord Springs Golf Links, Sporting Clays at the Nashville Gun Club, or the local Nashville tour and lunch.

The Ultimate “Saturdays in the South Tailgate Experience,” from 3 p.n. to 11 p.m., concludes the event.