It would be very difficult to find fruits or vegetables growing outside during the winter months in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But every December, that is the main topic of conversation inside the DeVos Place convention center when the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo rolls around.

The annual event draws hundreds of farmers, producers and suppliers from 45 U.S. states and nine Canadian provinces to participate in the trade show, annual meetings and educational sessions, Trade Show Manager Sharri German said.

“Michigan is known for its agriculture,” German said. “It's probably first or second in the agriculture industry in the states.”

Linda Naeve from Iowa State University said the sessions are excellent and include offerings for the nontraditional and organic growers, too.

“We pick up a lot of good information from other specialists, from other growers, from the vendors themselves discussing new products, new varieties,” she said.

The show returns to Grand Rapids each year, and some attendees had no problem with the repeat location, praising its central location, facilities and the city, including a guest from Rochester, New York.

“Whenever I go home I always tell my wife, I say, ‘it's too bad Rochester can't do something like they've done in Grand Rapids here,’ It's a beautiful city.”