By Heather Murphy
Expo Prado is Uruguay’s largest and most important national-level agricultural fair. The 10-day event—held every September—showcases commercial, diplomatic, and agricultural entities from across Uruguay, along with hundreds of livestock competitions representing nearly 2,000 farms. This key engagement opportunity for Embassy Montevideo not only provides large-scale, direct contact with Uruguayans, but also advances Mission objectives.
After a ten-year absence, the embassy returned to Prado in 2020 with the goal of increasing positive public opinion of the United States. Against the backdrop of livestock competitions and drawing on the former Ambassador’s Texan roots, the embassy’s outreach strategy connected rural and urban populations with shared cowboy/gaucho culture via line dancing, food, and music. U.S. government program alumni hosted talks; American businesses like Starbucks set up shop in the pavilion; and tourism destinations such as Idaho, Texas, Arizona, and Maine were highlighted.
Mission Uruguay’s 2021 pavilion theme was “Seed, Grow, Harvest,” and engaged more than 60,000 visitors with a mix of interactive programming and messaging designed to highlight the work of the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay. The pavilion showcased illustrious exchange program alumni, such as the current president of Uruguay, along with audio-visual demonstrations of their accomplishments. This included product display cases from Youth Leaders of the Americas Initiative entrepreneurs and interactive programs designed and led by alumni. The pavilion also received prizes, including first place for exterior design.
This year’s pavilion advanced Mission goals of Uruguayan economic diversification by highlighting the video gaming industry in Uruguay and its potential for growth and partnership with the United States. An estimated 200,000 visitors enjoyed American-themed bands and DJs, watched break dance competitions, and immersed themselves in gaming experiences, including virtual reality, eSports demos, and game jams, Sept. 9-18. The pavilion was once again recognized, winning first place for interior design.
Heather Murphy is the former deputy public affairs officer at Embassy Montevideo.