Dakota Fest 2007 – 525 exhibitors and still growing | TSLN.com

Dakota Fest 2007 – 525 exhibitors and still growing

Roger Merriman
-Group Publisher

The first day attendance on Tuesday, Aug. 21st at the 12th annual Dakotafest Farm Show in Mitchell, SD, was up over 20 percent with most attendees coming from a wide area of South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

“This year’s show again has topped previous years’ shows,” said Todd Benz, the Group Show Director with Cygnus Farm Shows.

Benz, who has been the Show Director for the past three years says, “the show is fulfilling an important need for the agricultural industry by providing a place where the agri-business industry can showcase in one place the best of their offerings to their rural customers.”

He also stressed the increasingly importance of forming partnerships with state and federal agencies, universities, banks, livestock and crop associations, who can provide important information by the way of forums to the attendees at the show. This year’s forums included such diverse topics as new technologies in biofuel production, energy from the wind, producing natural beef, managing the next drought, and “Agri-preneurship 101: From Farmers Markets and Pheasant Farms to Wineries and Niche Markets” – a conversation about new niche market opportunities in South Dakota.

Benz also stressed the importance of the positive competitive spirit of the agri-businesses that bring them back year after year to provide the attendees with the best of the new products their companies have to offer. He believes those who take the time to attend the show in most cases are those who have come to look for products to buy.

What does the future hold for Dakotafest? Benz believes the best areas for expansion for the show lie in the areas of livestock, outdoor segment in the areas of conservation and recreation, especially the areas of fishing and hunting. He would particularly like to see more and more involvement of youth in the show in these areas.

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Although many of the pieces of equipment on display were clearly designed for the larger farmers – such as giant grain trailers and combines with 35-foot headers – Benz believes that as farms and ranches grow larger, it is important for producers to see the equipment that will be available to them to help them manage that growth.

When asked if there was any part of the show that he liked most and what part that he didn’t like, Benz replied the first hour was the best and the last four hours were the worse.

“When the show opens you realize that you have created a small vibrant city and are excited about the next three days,” he explained. “With only four fork lifts, one tractor and one bobcat to move the exhibitors equipment on to the awaiting trucks, when the show closes, people’s good natures are often strained. They all want to go home and not have to wait for the equipment.”

Benz concluded that after the stress of the closing, the exhibitors are all gone, and when you have the opportunity to read the evaluations provided by the exhibitors, the excitement begins again because you realize the potential to do an even better show for the coming year.