July 30, 2014
Farm Shows Offer a Microcosm of AgricultureBy Raymond Bianchi
About a year ago the American Farm Bureau Federation bought the IDEAg Group of trade shows and publications from Cygnus Business Media. Among the four large agricultural shows are two of the largest outdoor events in the U.S.-Minnesota Farmfest, with 28,000 attendees and Dakotafest, with 27,000 visitors through the gates in South Dakota.
The four IDEAg shows are standouts among a group of seven major outdoor agricultural trade shows in the U.S., typically attracting attendees from Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, Texas and Illinois. In 2013 IDEAg farm shows also welcomed visitors from Brazil, China, India and Canada.
Farm shows supplement, but do not replace, the old state fair tradition. But what is it that compels tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers to spend three days in the hot sun at a farm show? The answer is products and community.
Unlike people in other industries, most farmers and ranchers work alone with their families. This is one reason outdoor ag shows are valued, because they bring together a community of like-minded individuals to explore products and services that many times cannot be seen easily other places.
The end result is that farmers gain access to detailed product information, make informed buying decisions and forge connections with other people in an unbiased environment. Unbiased in this case means that the only governor of commerce at the IDEAg shows is how much money exhibitors want to spend to promote various products.
If you want to see the latest and greatest green, red, blue or yellow farm equipment you can do so, all within a few easy yards.
If you want to see Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer or Syngenta seeds growing you can do this, again within a just few yards. If you want to connect with a specialized service provider who can meet the needs of your farm or ranch, that's also possible during each of the three-day events.
While products are the core of the four IDEAg trade shows the other key element is community.
Farmfest has hosted key political debates for candidates in congressional and gubernatorial races. In 2008 IDEAg was approached by both presidential campaigns to host debates but in the end, security issues ultimately meant this opportunity was a no-go.
The Dakotafest show focuses on training. One exhibitor offers a full veterinary and animal training program. This year at both Dakotafest and Farmfest, cutting-edge demos will showcase drones as well as the latest model farm equipment and Chevy pickups.
In the end what the IDEAg shows brings to farmers and ranchers is a microcosm of the agricultural sector in one place for three days. This is something that farmers and ranchers simply do not want to miss.
Learn more at http://www.ideaggroup.com/.
Raymond Bianchi is senior director, expositions and events, for the American Farm Bureau Federation and IDEAg Group.