Pork production has changed a lot in the last 50 years; as has the Minnesota Pork Congress.
This year marks the golden anniversary of the annual gathering of pork producers and leaders from across the Gopher State. Minnesota Pork Congress, Jan. 17-18, has grown from humble beginnings and has survived the ups and downs that producers have endured over the years.
The first meeting of the then Minnesota Swine Producers Association was held in 1968 at Turner Hall in New Ulm, and membership had doubled from 1967 to 1968 to 4,000 members. The following year, delegates approved to change the name of the organization to the Minnesota Pork Producers Association.
The annual meeting and trade show has had various locations across southern Minnesota, before expanding to a two-day event, being renamed the Minnesota Pork Conference and landing in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington in 1978.
Minnesota Pork Congress became the official name of the event in 1989, the same year of the first Taste of Elegance, a competition of metro-area chefs incorporating pork into their menus. That first Taste of Elegance was held in May, separate from Pork Congress. Taste of Elegance would become a part of Minnesota Pork Congress in 1993.
One year later Pork Congress moved to the St. Paul Civic Center, and the trade show boasted more than 300 booths. In 1996, Pork Congress moved to its current home at the Minneapolis Convention Center and Hilton Towers in downtown Minneapolis.
While membership and locations have changed over the past 50 years of Minnesota Pork Congress, the one constant has been the dedication, commitment and perseverance of the hog producers and leaders in Minnesota.