Mother Nature finally got it right.
After two blustery days of cold weather with wind and/or rain, the 2015 installment of the annual Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo closed Friday on a sunny, warm spring afternoon.
“It was absolutely marvellous,” said Jan Westfall, local expo organizer and Great Bend Chamber of Commerce board member.
“There were a lot of buyers,” she said. This makes for happy exhibitors.
“The venders, overall, said the show was good for them,” Westfall said.
Although the final numbers weren’t in, she said the crowds were good on Friday as well. Some food peddlers started to run of out stuff to sell.
“That’s what we needed,” said show owner Darren Dale of the weather Friday. It was a perfect end to the event.
“The venders all did very well,” Dale said. “They all said they were coming back and that is a good thing.”
As for the folks who came to see the displays, “the quality of the attendees was second to none,” he said.
But, even with the less-than desirable weather Wednesday and Thursday, things weren’t all bad, Westfall said. There were still people wandering through the exhibits and making purchases.
The show took place at the Great Bend Expo Complex west of town. Covering over 80 acres, there were over 700 booths filled with exhibitors from 27 States, Canada and Australia, making it one of the largest farm shows in the United States, Dale said.
Now, Westfall said, they are looking forward to next year which marks the fifth anniversary.
In March, Great Bend Chamber of Commerce President Jan Peters said the chamber had just inked a deal with Dale to keep the event through 2019.
The expo is the heir to the long-running 3i Show. In the spring of 2011, 3i Show promoter Eddie Estes announced the exhibition would cease alternating between Great Bend and Garden City. Instead, it would permanently stay in Estes’ hometown of Dodge City.
Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and other residents sought out an alternative and found Dale, a Bird City resident and long-time farm show promoter. He is the manager of Star Enterprises which also manages farm shows in McCook, Neb., and Wichita Falls, Texas.
“This is one of his most successful shows,” Westfall said. This is in large part due to the quality of the volunteers, which Dale doesn’t have in the other communities.
“It’s a team effort,” Dale said, thanking the venders, customers and volunteers. “It’s humbling to see it all come together.”