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Another in the books
Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo builds on success
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Farmers chat with a vendor at the second-annual Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo Thursday afternoon. The event closed Friday and organizers said it was a success. - photo by Dale Hogg, Great Bend Tribune

The Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo wrapped up its second successful show Friday afternoon. Jan Westfall, chairman of the Great Bend Area Chamber of Commerce expo committee, said while the first day of the Expo started off slow because of cold, wet weather, subsequent days saw the numbers of visitors building.
The show ran Wednesday through Friday at the Great Bend Expo Complex west of town.
Friday was busier than ever, with the return of sunny mild weather. She said participation is at a record high this year, Expo buildings one through three full. Seminars in Expo 3 were excellent, she said. Farmers were particularly interested in the presentation on drone technology.
“The audience participation for trick roper Max Reynolds ‘Entertainment to the Max’ performances has been phenomenal,” Westfall said.
In its second year, GBFRE promoter and Manager Darren Dale said the event is growing, and he expects it to be even larger next year. The quality of vendors and producers is second to none, he said, and he’s had several touring the show for the past three days who are eager to sign on for 2014 already.
“You can’t predict the weather, but attendance today is unbelievable,” he said Friday afternoon. “The volunteers have really made this a success. Great Bend, Kansas, has a reputation for hospitality, and that’s another reason the vendors come.”
Dale points to the facility and the location as the other major draws that have vendors reserving booth space early. The location of the facility, the amount of cement both inside and out, make it ideal for whatever needs the vendors may have.
Area hotels reported heavy bookings. Mike Toprani, manager of the Highland Hotel and Convention Center, said comments from guests were very positive.
“This has helped not only us, but the hospitality industry in all of Great Bend,” he said.
It is estimated the expo could bring $2.5 million into Great Bend this year and in years to come. Previously, the 3i show was held every other year in Great Bend, alternating with Garden City.
Two years ago, the show became permanently located in Dodge City. Apparently, the state is big enough for both shows. Attendees to the Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo made the trip up from the south west corner of the state and Dodge City, and reported they enjoyed the show and will attend 3i, too.