Dakotafest, which has been moved back a week in scheduling this year, is “simply growing like crazy,” according to Ray Bianchi, who produces the show along with his company, IDEAg.
The show will be Aug. 21-23 at the Schlaffman Farm on the southern edge of Mitchell, S.D. It had been held a week earlier in the summer of many previous years.
The number of exhibitors has increased by more than 100 companies this year from 550 to more than 650.
“South Dakota really embraces the show,” Bianchi said. “Dakotafest is doing really, really well.”
The biggest-ever crowd of 36,000 people visited the show last year, and Bianchi is expecting that number to grow this year. As far as industry trade shows go, Dakotafest ranks 67th in the nation. Farmfest near Redwood Falls, Minn., which runs Aug. 7-9, is ranked 53rd.
Bianchi said Dakotafest could move up in the rankings this year with the increase in exhibitors and other additions. The 2012 event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 21-22 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 23.
One added feature this year is that producers who pre-register can get into the show for free by going to www.IDEAggroup.com/dakotafest and answering a series of questions. The cutoff date to sign up early and gain free admission is Aug. 19, the Sunday before the show begins.
Adding further interest to this year’s event is that technology and interconnectivity will be the focus of South Dakota State University and IDEAg programming.
“Technology and interconnectivity impact every aspect of agriculture today,” said Barry Dunn, dean of SDSU’s College of Agriculture and director of SDSU Extension. "From guidance systems in equipment, seed and application of crop nutrition and protection products to gathering real-time information, accessing the markets and processing of goods, understanding how to best implement technology and communicate information is key to maximizing yields and profits on today’s farms and ranches.”
Bianca added that top-notch precision ag industry speakers from Raven and John Deere, for example, will be joining discussions.
“They’ll be talking about the interconnected farm and how the Internet is changing farming,” Bianca said.
Each day during Dakotafest, SDSU and IDEAg will host panel discussions at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in the SDSU Pavilion. SDSU Extension staff, university faculty and nationally recognized experts will lead the forums, which will focus on soybeans, corn and cattle.
"South Dakota agriculture producers are eager for insight into cutting-edge technology and ways they can quickly access information when and where they need it,” said Rosie Nold, SDSU Extension ag program director. "Two forums each day will be devoted to using agricultural technology, including a look at various tools available for the interconnected farm.
“We reorganized Extension to provide South Dakota producers with higher-level technology services which provide growers and agribusiness people with access to management tools and information when and where they need it," Nold said.
Playing an important role in accomplishing this, Nold said, is the SDSU website iGrow.org.
Also helping boost the crowds this year will be a debate on ag issues between Republican U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and her opponent, Matt Varilek, the Democratic nominee.
The two will meet in a forum during the event, although a specific time and date hadn’t been set by press time of this edition of the Tri-State Neighbor. A discussion of the farm bill with U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., also is planned.
The debate and high-tech programming will be in the SDSU Pavilion. With more than 40 exhibits, the pavilion is the largest exhibit at Dakotafest. Along with daily forums, the pavilion provides the public with the opportunity to visit with SDSU faculty and SDSU Extension staff. Serving free SDSU ice cream at noon each day and free water and coffee throughout the day, the pavilion is a great place to cool off, connect with friends and shop the SDSU Bookstore.
“As South Dakota’s flagship university, we’re dedicated to improving our state and our nation through teaching, research and extension activities,” Dunn said. “Join us at Dakotafest and learn more about what SDSU can offer you.”
The 2012 event will have many other activities to entertain visitors, including a Kids’ Pedal Pull daily, a women’s brunch, Ride-N-Drive opportunities of farm equipment, the Bull Bash bull riding event, a free chicken wing feed, an ice cream social and an auction on the last day of the show to raise money for the new SDSU cow/calf research and teaching facility.