By Michele F. Mihaljevich
INDIANAPOLIS – Organizers of this year’s FFA convention will welcome members back to Indianapolis after the 2020 event was held virtually due to COVID-19.
The 94th National FFA Convention & Expo is Oct. 27-30 in Indianapolis.
“We’re excited to be back, we’re going to see the students, see their reactions as they hear their names on stage,” said Kristy Meyer, communications manager for the National FFA Organization. “The way we see their faces light up, that fills your bucket up. We see the pride they have in wearing that jacket. There’s excitement, but there’s also an air of apprehension. Are we doing everything right?”
The FFA worked with health department officials while planning the convention, she said. “In deciding to have an in-person convention, the health and safety of the students was top of our mind. We made the decision that masks would be required for health and safety. They won’t be needed when someone is participating in public speaking, singing or playing music.”
Virtual options will be available for many events during the convention, including student and teacher workshops and general and delegate sessions. The FFA Blue Room will be all virtual. The National Days of Service projects may be done on-site in Indianapolis or in a member’s local community.
In 2019, about 68,000 attended the convention. There is no cap on attendance for 2021. “I don’t believe we’re going to reach that number this year,” Meyer noted. “We had a pretty good response when registration opened in September. Some events were sold out. Registration doesn’t close. I honestly have no idea how normal it will be this year, but we hope it’s going to be pretty close to normal.
“One thing we learned in 2020 is we still have the ability to connect our students. The silver lining might have been Zoom.”
This year, the judging process will have occurred before the convention, she said. Winners will still be announced from the stage, but with the judging already done, students will be able to experience other things during the convention, Meyer added.
Daily features during the convention include the shopping mall, musical performances and general sessions. The 2021-2022 team of national officers will be announced Oct. 30. Events are scheduled for Lucas Oil Stadium, Indiana Convention Center, Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis City Market and Indianapolis Artsgarden. A concert by Brett Young will be Oct. 27 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse (formerly Bankers Life Fieldhouse).
Courtenay DeHoff, a cowgirl turned television personality and podcast host, will deliver the convention’s keynote address Oct. 28. DeHoff started the brand Fancy Lady Cowgirl last year.
To register, or for more information and a detailed schedule, visit https://convention.ffa.org/. Registration is available before and at the convention. The cost for four-day access is $90 per person through Oct. 26 and $95 after. Single-day access is also available. There is no charge to participate virtually. There are fees for additional events, such as the Brett Young concert and the CINCH World’s Toughest Rodeo.
FFA has more than 735,000 student members from about 8,800 local chapters in every state, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.