Sunshine, Palm Trees and Cattlemen
Written by Becky Church, Communications Director
Karin, Ashley and I spent the week in Phoenix for the 2018 Annual Cattle Industry Convention taking in a week full of industry meetings, sessions, trade show booths and of course, some fun too! We happily traded in our snow boots for sandals, and our heavy sweaters for short sleeves.
We left snowy Minneapolis on Wednesday, and hung out on the plane for three hours before being greeted at the Sky Harbor International airport with real-life palm trees and cacti outside. Seriously, it was cool. (It’s the little things in life!)
When our Uber driver picked us up, he asked if we were there for the Phoenix Open PGA Tour. That’s when Karin piped up, looked over her sunglasses and said, “Nope, we’re here with all the cowboys at the convention center!”
The Uber Driver laughed and said, “Cowboys huh?”
We let him sit there for a second to take in the thought, and then I pointed across the road and said, “Hey, there’s one right now!”
Aren’t Uber driver interactions fun?
It was clear blue skies and sunny days all week long – the perfect refresh we needed from a cold and snowy Minnesota winter!
It was about 2:00 p.m. by the time we got to downtown Phoenix, so we were feeling quite #hangry. And no, I am not just speaking for myself 😉 We ate at a bar and grill with a patio right across from the Phoenix Convention Center. Cute red chairs, delicious burgers and warm sunshine was quite delightful.
We then headed to the convention center for the opening session!
Speaking of Cowboys
Speaking of cowboys, I got to meet one of my favorite cowboys after lunch – Ladd Drummond.
If you know Ladd, chances are you know his wife, Ree Drummond. Also known as, The Pioneer Woman, who was the keynote speaker of the opening session. Not only did she speak, but she also stuck around for some Q & A and book signing. Karin’s question got featured – as the FIRST question! Autograph please.
Then, we got in line for the trade show to open so we could meet her. You guys, I’ve never participated in a Black Friday excursion to Best Buy, but this had to be the equivalent. When the doors opened, people were running and arms were flailing in excitement to hop into line. The vendor booths and horse inside the trade show? Let’s just call those additions to the obstacle course. Excitement was running rampant among all cattlemen and women. If you think boots are made for walkin’, I’ve got a correction – they are made for running.
It was finally our turn to meet the Pioneer Woman! In fact, we are practically BFFs now. I mean, just look how big her smile is…that’s true friendship.
Meeting the Pioneer Woman was especially exciting for me because I’ve followed her story since the beginning, when she started her blog in 2006. As in, before she was cool – and got her own Food Network Show, Magazine, Mercantile and the whole shebang.
My older sister and I enjoy cooking and baking. Over the years, my sister has shared many of her mean kitchen skills with me, and included in that, has been her love of The Pioneer Woman. Each Christmas, my sister receives the latest Pioneer Woman cookbook, and she so graciously lets me look over it too. (Or maybe I snatch it to read when she’s not looking?) Either way, it’s safe to say we are big fans of Ree’s.
Karin also met Ladd and Ree, as did Rebecca – another attendee from Minnesota! Smiles all around!
You better believe that it wasn’t just the ladies in line to meet Ree –
After that, we checked out a bit of the 7-acre trade show – the biggest in the country!
Thursday morning started right away at 7:00 a.m. with the CattleFax U.S. and Global Outlook seminar. We had just enough time to head to the trade show and grab lunch, and then head back upstairs for more meetings which continued throughout the afternoon.
(Take a look at this photo from the CattleFax session – cowboy hat silhouettes all around)
On Thursday evening, we went to the secret BQA Awards Reception on a hotel rooftop where the five national winners were recognized. It was a night filled with appetizers, drinks and good conversation. Secret rooftop party? Count us in.
Check out these life-sized stickers that were on the rooftop of our winners. They were illuminated with a blue light during the recognition and party! (But of course, we were the last to leave, so the lights were out)
We started Friday morning at 6:30 a.m. to head to the “Best of Beef” Breakfast and Award Ceremony. Easily put, it’s the Beef Grammy’s. (casual, I know)
But really, look at those golden statues on stage.
The rest of the afternoon was spent in the trade show, meetings and back to the trade show. Karin, Ashley and I participated in a few interviews, and made sure all Minnesota attendees were gathered up for a group photo.
I stopped by the Purina Booth, as they were celebrating 50 years of their Complete Precon. Celebrating with cattle, cowhides and cupcakes?
Don’t mind if I do!
I promise I asked her if I could take her photo, and explained that it was for this blog.
Of course, I explained that AFTER I creepily took a few photos. Thanks for taking one for the team, my friend!
At the trade show, I tried out a 360 virtual reality ranch tour. How do you like my new glasses? I thought about bringing them home to show off to my friends, but then I thought “hmm, betta not.”
I also got to reconnect with a great friend from Nebraska who I met at a beef conference two years ago. It’s a small world out there, but especially small in the beef community!
Saturday was our last day in Phoenix. We soaked up as much sun as we could in the morning and explored downtown. When in Phoenix, you take a selfie because you never know many years it will be until you make it back!
And then, we headed to the airport to head home. It was a rocky flight with turbulence. But thankfully, we made it back in one piece. (hardly)
We were even greeted with single digit temps, fresh fallen snow and crazy fans in town for the Big Game. Unfortunately, no celebrity sightings at the airport..but nonetheless, good to see you Minnesota!
Until our next adventure,