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The Advertiser: LAGCOE's come a long way from its parking-lot start - Sunday, October 20, 2013

Written by Claire Taylor

In 1953, Lafayette hosted a small oil expo with exhibits in the Petroleum Club’s parking lot.

This year, the 29th LAGCOE will take over the Cajundome and Convention Center and was selected by the U.S. Department of Commerce to participate in the International Buyer Program (Select).

LAGCOE’s history credits Peter Ferguson of Esso Standard and the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce with conceiving the idea for a local oil show to thank the industry and showcase the services and technologies offered by local oil and natural gas companies.

Two years later, it evolved into the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition, held in 1955 at Blackham Coliseum. With 130 exhibitors, it was considered a success, except financially.

Lafayette Looey debuted at the first show. Looey was a cartoon-like character depicting oil and gas rig roughnecks or toolpushers. Lyle Cummins served as the first Lafayette Looey, the forerunner of today’s LAGCOE Looey.

The first show featured a Cajun fais do do, a parade through downtown Lafayette featuring 17 marching bands, the selection of a Queen LAGCOE at a formal concert and dance, and more.

In its early years, LAGCOE was geared toward rig and production personnel working in the field, gaining a reputation as the working man’s oil show.

Some big names have served as featured speakers at the LAGCOE luncheon and have attended the expo. In 1969, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Walter Hickel was a guest. In 1989, Speaker of the House Tom Foley attended. In 1995, Cynthia Quarterman, director of the Minerals Management Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior was a featured speaker and legendary wild well fighter Paul "Red” Adair attended.

Dick Cheney was a guest speaker in 1999 when he was CEO of Halliburton, before being elected vice president of the United States.

Over the years, as the industry evolved, so did LAGCOE. After the oil bust of the 1980s, the industry became more conservative, and the expo reflected the change, refocusing on efficiency in the industry and eliminating some of the extravagances of the past.

Today, the expo is more professional and technical than the early days, geared toward the CEOs, managers, engineers and geologists from oil and gas operators and service companies. In recent years, LAGCOE has attracted industry innovators and serves as a platform for introducing new technology and services for onshore and offshore industries.

The 2013 expo will feature exhibits by 416 companies.

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