After 12 years, the Great Bend Farm Ranch and Hemp Expo is no more.
The Bird City-based Star Enterprises that owns the show is moving it to Hutchinson, starting next year. Named the Kansas Ag Expo at Hutchinson, it is set for March 30 through April 1, 2023.
According to a link to the show on Star Enterprises’ website, “The Kansas Ag Expo 2023 is dubbed as the largest farm event in the United States dedicated to promoting agricultural technology.”
“This is bittersweet,” said Tana Dale, who runs Star Enterprises with her husband Darren. “Great Bend has been good to us for several years.”
However, “it was time to make the switch,” she said. “It was one of the things that had to be done to keep going.”
The official announcement and unveiling will take place Tuesday in Hutchinson.
Tana said the Kansas State Fair offered a large sponsorship they couldn’t turn down.
“It will all be under one roof,” she said. Here, “there were a lot of people playing in the same sandbox.”
Working with the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, the City of Great Bend, the Barton County Fair Association and the Sunflower Rod and Custom Association got to be tricky, she said. The event took place at the Great Bend Expo Complex west of town, which is owned by the city with the chamber owning the Expo I and II buildings and the SRCA renting the dragstrip.
“We just want to tell the people of Great Bend what a fun run we’ve had,” Darren said. He thanked the community for being a part of the Dale family.
“Your town as a community opened your heart to us,” he said. “But it came down to a business decision.”
The move was made due to changes and consolidations in the ag industry, and the cost of running the show in Great Bend.
“I totally wish the best for them. There are no hard feelings,” said Megan Barfield, president of the Great Bend Chamber. Up until this year, the chamber helped coordinate the show.
“But, like everything, it had a shelf life,” she said. “It was time for them to move and grow.”
She said there have already been discussions about other options and types of events that could replace the farm show. “It may create options for something else to be born here.”
Star Enterprises wasn’t the agricultural first trade show that was based in Great Bend. Western Kansas Manufacturers Association Chief Executive Officer Eddie Estes announced in July 2011 that the 3i Show (focusing on industry, implements and irrigation) would no longer alternate between Great Bend and Garden City as it had for decades. It is now located in Dodge City, the home of the WKMA.
About a week after this news, the Dales and Star Enterprises announced they would sponsor the Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo.