OK, kids, what will it be this year – Disney World or Decatur?

“Decatur is not a tourist destination,” says Decatur Area Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Teri Hammel. “We have a convention center – 55,000 square feet of meeting space.” She also touts the community's softball fields, central location, and access to transportation.

Hammel's welcoming the world at the Farm Progress Show. She says one of her main duties is operating online pre-registration for foreign visitors – 44 countries this year, a record, with two more, Turkey and Indonesia, showing up without having pre-registered.

Click here for summary

The dozens of nations' flags outside Hammel's tent in Progress City is a testament to the Farm Progress Show's international importance.

One of the visitors is Luis Melo, who is based in Brazil for a German-based chemical and fertilizer company. Why travel thousands of miles when you can just Skype?

“Personal (contact) is very important today,” Melo says. “Sometimes you assess the shows and the other things on the Internet, with a computer. But I love the experience to know new places, new friends, and the others.”

Melo's travels mainly take him to Latin America and the U.S., but 2015 is the first time he has been able to put a Decatur sticker on his suitcase.


(Copyright WBGZ / www.AltonDailyNews.com )