Farmfest, one of the nation's largest farm shows, is going high-tech and also giving producers a nice “freebie” in 2012.
As it enters its fourth decade – this is the 31st annual show – a new set of speakers addressing technology advances on the farm will speak each morning of the three-day event from Aug. 7-9 at Gilfillan Estate, between Morgan and Redwood Falls on Minnesota Highway 27.
The farm show managers – IDEAg – will present its high-tech programming called “IDEAg Interconnectivity … the Future of Farming” each day at 9 a.m. in the Forum Tent in the center of the Farmfest grounds.
Developed in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, the seminars will focus on ways that farmers use the Internet to simplify operations or gain additional information and also on the newest advances in precision agriculture by which producers use mapping, GPS and other high-tech tools to increase yields and pinpoint planting and crop care issues.
This high-tech seminar will mirror the Interconnectivity Conference recently held in Altoona, Iowa, near Des Moines where about 500 people attended.
IDEAg group operations director Marshall Brown said the information provided at the seminars is “one of the most exciting things I've seen in my 25 years of doing shows.”
Organizers are in the process of confirming and finding speakers from the University of Minnesota and from high-tech ag companies for the seminars.
As for the “freebies” for producers, Raymond Bianchi, Farmfest group show director, said farmers who want to pre-register for Farmfest can go on the IDEAg website and receive free registration and entrance to the show. They also will be given promotional coupons from exhibitors with their pre-registration.
“If you are a farmer-producer and involved in agriculture, if you go to our website, you can register for Farmfest and get into the show – all three days – free of charge,” Bianchi said.
The website is found at www.IDEAgGroup.com/farmfest, and look for “Register Now” on the right hand side of the page.
Other Farmfest visitors must pay the $10 fee for entrance, with children 18 and under getting in free. There is free parking.
The Tuesday through Thursday show begins at 8 a.m. each day at Gilfillan Estate. More than 625 companies will participate in the show, which connects manufacturers and providers with decision-making farm families.
Farmfest 2012 will feature other educational and political forums.
Field demonstrations with the latest in technological advances are included, and there’s time for fun and entertainment.
The Minnesota show strives to provide the traditional programs that bring attendees back year after year, while also offering new, dynamic events and programs designed to entertain and bring in new attendees.
As 2012 is an election year, Farmfest will offer a slate of political forums.
Farmfest offers one of the first significant debates occurring each election year. This draws a lot of attention from candidates as well as state and national media who report on the event.
U.S. House candidates will debate at the forum, as well the two candidates for Minnesota’s contested U.S. Senate seat – incumbent Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., her Republican challenger, Kurt Bills, and Independence Party candidate Glen Menze.
Other leading Minnesota politicians will give keynote addresses Tuesday, including U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Gov. Mark Dayton.
“Senator Franken will do a whole afternoon on Tuesday, based on agriculture and energy,” Bianchi said. “It should be very, very interesting.”
“Farmfest is the fourth largest agricultural event in the United States,” Bianchi said. “Farmfest is a big deal and actually larger than many big trade shows.”
It is rated 56th overall in the rankings of the nation’s largest trade shows. Bianchi expects about 40,000 visitors.
“We’ve had growth in attendance of 37 percent in the past five years, and it continues to grow. We are really excited about it. We’re looking forward to having another great event,” he said.
Andrea Johnson of the Minnesota Farm Guide contributed to this report.