Nearly 4,000 people from 43 countries attended the 2018 Irrigation Show and Education Conference in Long Beach, California, Dec. 3-7.

The education conference was one of the largest in recent history, hosting classes, seminars and learning labs on various agricultural and landscape irrigation topics. The Irrigation Association offered the opportunity for irrigation professionals to become certified at the show through any of its eight different certification exams.

Wednesday morning kicked off with a powerful message by keynote speaker Mark Eaton, a 7-foot-4-inch tall former NBA defensive player and team-building expert. Eaton told a packed room about his unconventional journey from auto mechanic to NBA All-Star and delivered his “four commitments” to help attendees play at the top of their game.

Following the keynote address, the trade show floor opened, giving irrigation professionals the opportunity to interact with 267 exhibitors and learn about products and services that could help their businesses. In addition to exploring the trade show floor for ideas, attendees had access to the industry’s latest technologies and innovations at the new product contest, which had a record-breaking 58 entries.

Several networking events and socials also took place, allowing attendees and exhibitors to mingle. The opening night party included live music and a chance to try a variety of cuisine from local food trucks.

The 2018 New Product Contest winners were announced at Thursday’s general session, hosted by IA CEO Deborah Hamlin, CAE, FASAE; 2018 IA President Warren Gorowitz, CLIA; and incoming 2019 IA President Ed Santalone Jr. They recognized and honored the 2018 award winners and shared what the IA has accomplished over the past year. For information about the new product contest winners, go to www.irrigationshow.org/2018winners, and for information about IA awards and the 2018 recipients, go to www.irrigation.org/awards.

“The Irrigation Show strives to accomplish three key things each year: provide educational opportunities, introduce new technologies to the market and provide an informal venue for business-to-business connections,” Hamlin said. “The feedback so far says that we accomplished our mission in Long Beach!”

The Irrigation Show was a special time for industry colleagues to reunite and attendees to meet irrigation professionals from around the world. Being together under one roof, those in the industry celebrated the work done in the past year and looked to the future of what is yet to come. The IA now sets its sights on Las Vegas in 2019, where it will once again co-locate its show with the National Ground Water Association, Dec. 2-6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.