Return of FFA convention sparks Louisville business boom - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Return of FFA convention sparks Louisville business boom

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FFA members on a tour of Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. FFA members on a tour of Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.
Elizabeth Todsen Elizabeth Todsen
Vanessa Ference Vanessa Ference
Anne Jewell Anne Jewell
Joe Exline Joe Exline

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Wednesday seemed to mark the invasion of the blue corduroy jackets in Louisville. No, it was not some foreign insect, nor an extraterrestrial front. Rather, a group of more than 56,000 students aiming to become tomorrow's agriculture and agribusiness leaders.

"We all have a striving passion for agriculture," said Elizabeth Todsen, a Nebraska FFA student. "I just have a love for it because agriculture can span through so many different things. So it can really touch a lot of different people."

The tens of thousands of students are visiting Louisville for the 86th annual National FFA Organization Convention and Expo being held at the Kentucky Expo Center through Saturday. While in town, the massive crowds are taking in the sights, eats, and attractions the Derby City has to offer.

"It's pretty cool, actually. I'm really enjoying it," said Vanessa Ference, another Nebraska FFA student.

It's a welcomed financial boost many business owners have missed since the convention was last held in Louisville in 2005.

"We're so proud that FFA chose to come back to Louisville," said Anne Jewell, director of Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. "It's like an entire extra month of business crammed into four days."

"In total, we have about 10,000 people booked," said Elisabeth Voelker, operations assistant at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. "They're from Wisconsin, Oregon, Montana; really everywhere."

To accommodate the massive crowds, Jewell said museum hours have been extended, tours have been modified and staffing has been increased. They're changes many business owners are willing to make, especially if it means more blue corduroy jackets coming through their doors.

"We see the influx," began Joe Exline, the restaurant manager at Toast on Market. "Sometimes, larger crowds than what we can always be ready for."

Exline said orders are up thanks to at least one winning recipe - loyal customers.

"We have a lot of repeat people who have been here before they come back," said Exline.

"The groups from Idaho bring us potatoes," said Jewell of FFA convention-goers that frequently return to the museum.

Whether toting homegrown produce, or purchasing admission tickets, for business owners convention-goers are a fan favorite. The profitable convention will return to Louisville in the future. The Derby City is set to host the annual conference through 2015.

For more information about the FFA Convention and Expo, click here.

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