As Tennessee emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, many events and happenings at the Farm Bureau Exposition Center, located on 945 East Baddour Parkway in Lebanon, Tennessee are now in full swing again. And one person that has helped the Expo navigate the unprecedented the last year is Expo Director, Gayle Hibbert. Gayle and the staff have been instrumental in keeping the Expo up and running through 2020 and are excited to say that 2021 is expected to be a banner year for the Expo Center.
Hibbert comes from a marketing background in the healthcare industry. Transitioning to event coordination, Hibbert explains, was natural for her as she had built connections and honed her managerial skills for two decades. After obtaining further education at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Hibbert returned home to Wilson County with the intention of aiding to its growth and development as a community. As the new Expo Director, Gayle is now able to bring with her a multitude of helpful experiences, including her ability to adjust schedules and pivot when necessary and remain the calm within the storm.
Although the pandemic did not close the doors of the Expo Center to all events, many adjustments were made for the safety of the community. Around 75% of the $350,000 worth of cancelled events from March through June 2020 were rescheduled to the current year, with around 25% of these events unable to reschedule. However, in July 2020, while abiding by CDC safety procedures, events were once again scheduled and safely executed, and by the end of the year, bookings for 2021 and 2022 were filling up rapidly, allowing the Expo Center to bounce back after a short amount of time.
The Expo Center was renamed from the Wilson County Expo Center- the title they opened with in 2016- to the Farm Bureau Expo Center following a $225,000 five year naming rights agreement between the Expo and the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.
The entire building is an impressive 79,000 square feet, suitable for large gatherings and events such as trade shows and concerts, and the individual exhibit halls and rentable spaces can cater to the needs of smaller gatherings as well, for instance, more intimate business meetings or wedding receptions.
Of the numerous occasions planned for the coming months, there are several events for the Wilson County community to participate in and enjoy. The Wilson County Fair – The Tennessee State Fair, held on the James E. Ward Agricultural grounds, are running concurrently from August 12th through 21st. For firearms enthusiasts, the RK Gun Show is hosting multiple events during the fall and winter months in 2021. Near the end of August, a Creating Keepsakes Scrapbooking convention will be held on the 27th-28th, for craft aficionados. And in October, many fun events are scheduled including the Tennessee Antique Vintage Market and Fall Flower Show as well as the Wilson County Oktoberfest- modeled after a traditional German Oktoberfest- which will feature traditional German music, lively activities, and German food and bier, and will be held on the 23rd-24th of October.
Gayle is glad that the storm is behind us and Wilson County has emerged stronger than ever. Gayle notes that “the Expo Center is a great space for our community to come out and enjoy events as well as a source of income for the community. We are proud to be an iconic landmark in the county, as well as this event resource. Our focus is to bring diverse events into Wilson County, drive revenue dollars and further support the merchants and hotels within the greater Wilson County area.”
If you are interested in planning a private event at the Expo Center, you can contact Hibbert through her office number, 615-450-3049, her cell number, 615-864-1977, or through email, at email@example.com. For a schedule of upcoming events you and your family can enjoy be sure to visit their website at farmbureauexpo.com. Events are constantly being added, so check back often and come out to enjoy all the Expo Center offers!