The World Ag Expo began in 1968, and was held at the Tulare County Fairgrounds in Tulare, California. When the 3-day run of the first show was complete, this new show proved to be successful, especially after exhibitors were lining up to sign contracts for the second show in 1969 before the first one had even ended. The first show attracted 157 exhibitors with 28,000 attendees. By the second year, the show doubled in both attendees and exhibitors, and continued the rapid growth throughout the future years.
Tulare's location in the center of the state and the heart of the agriculturally-rich San Joaquin Valley proved accessible and attractive to farm equipment manufacturers and dealers from around the world. The exhibitors found an organized show in a central location where they could display their agriculture products, services, and equipment to an interested audience of farmers, also known as serious, potential buyers. The attendees found a place where they could view the latest technology, and agricultural equipment and services in one location.
Originally named "Tulare's Field and Row Crop Equipment Show," it quickly outgrew its name, and became the "California Farm Equipment Show" for the second show in 1969. In 1972, the first foreign manufacturers began moving in to display their products, leading the necessity of another name change "California Farm Equipment Show and International Exposition" and finally, the current name, "World Ag Expo," was adopted in 2001.
With the increase in international exhibitors and visitors, the United States Department of Commerce sensed an opportunity to enhance the U.S. export trade possibilities. The Department of Commerce designated and publicized the show throughout the world as an official affiliate of the Foreign Buyer Program. Throughout the 1970s, the show continued to grow, eventually leading to a shortage of space at the fairgrounds. So, in 1976, the show directors voted to explore the formation of a special corporation that would establish an international agribusiness show place somewhere within the Tulare area. The plan was found to be feasible, and a non-profit corporation was created - the International Agri-Center, Inc. A section of the Faria Family farm became the site for the new show grounds of the farm show - located just south of Tulare on Laspina Street, conveniently along Highway 99.
The 15th California Farm Equipment Show and International Exposition opened its doors on the new show grounds, February 9, 1982. This new location provided Tulare with the first facility in the Western United States ever constructed to house an agricultural trade show and other farm-related events. Throughout the years, exhibitors have found the now World Ag Expo to be a sound investment in future business at a show devoted to the task of bringing seller and buyer together.
The International Agri-Center is continually investing and enhancing the show grounds for the comfort and convenience for the farmers and the exhibitors, who browse and occupy the Farm Show Streets each February. The Dairy Center was completed for the first-time use during the 1991 show, built in response to the growing need for more space for the popular demand of dairy industry displays.