(Nov. 22) WENATCHEE, Wash. — Washington tree fruit growers, shippers and packers will have a chance to revisit their roots and look into the future Dec. 6-8 when the Washington State Horticultural Association celebrates its centennial.

The association is the only group of its kind in the state to have reached the century mark, and the anniversary will play a major role in its annual meeting, said Darby Zahn, communications coordinator.

Attendees also will have the chance to attend a variety of educational seminars and see presentations by people such as Bruce Peterson, senior vice president and general merchandising manager for perishables for Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

“Our anniversary is extremely special,” Zahn said. “We’re very excited. This is directly attributed to the support of the growers and shippers.”

The three-day annual meeting will be at the Yakima Convention Center, Yakima. More than 1,300 attendees are expected.

A video called “100 Years of Hort” by Wenatchee-based filmmaker Jamie Howell will kick off the annual meeting, which also will include two days of a trade show.

John McCliskie, chairman of the Nelson, New Zealand-based Heartland Fruit NZ Ltd., will present the association’s 25th annual Batjer address — “You’ve Reached 100: What are Your Competitive Strategies for the Next 100?” — at 10:30 a.m. Dec 6.

Then Desmond O’Rourke, chief executive officer of Belrose Inc., Pullman, and publisher of The World Apple Report, will discuss the rapid expansion of the Chinese apple industry at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 6.

Peterson will speak about Wal-Mart’s growth in produce at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 7.

Attendees also will see the presentation of industry awards on Dec. 6 and the honoring of past association presidents on Dec. 7.

The first day will include the annual presentations of the association’s Silver Apple and Silver Pear awards, for achievements in apple and pear production, and the Eighth Annual Good Fruit Grower of the Year and the Women’s Leadership through Science and Service awards.

The annual meeting includes several firsts, including Spanish interpretation for the first day’s opening session. Spanish language sessions also will be conducted Dec. 7.

In addition, for the first time, attendees will have access to a room that will feature the history of the state’s tree fruit industry. The room will feature exhibits from the Yakima Valley Museum and two 25-minute slide shows highlighting the industry’s history. The slide shows will appear on plasma TVs and will cycle continuously.

Meanwhile, the trade show, which will be at the Yakima SunDome, will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 7-8.