The first Great Bend Farm & Ranch Expo was barely under way Wednesday but organizers were calling the huge trade show a success.
Mayor Mike Allison said the three-day show at the Great Bend Expo Complex west of town will become an annual event, replacing a trade show that used to be held here on even-numbered years. “We are going to have many of these in the future,” Allison said.
Congressman Tim Huelskamp and Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman spoke at the opening ceremony.
“My hats off to the people of Great Bend, the county and the chamber of commerce,” Rodman said. With a growing global population becoming more financially prosperous, the world will see an increased demand for meet. The solutions to problems in the United States and worldwide will come from the Midwest, Rodman said, with many opportunities for Kansas agriculture – the state’s largest industry – to move forward. Much of that will depend on technology such as can be found at the Farm & Ranch Show.
Huelskamp agreed that Kansas farmers and ranchers should be well positioned to take advantage of free trade agreements as they develop. “Many people across the United States have no idea what we do in agriculture,” Huelskamp said. “This (trade show) showcases the advancements of the last 10 years.”
The congressman said was “very impressed” with the show. “It’s a real testament to your work here. ... This is a tremendous day for Great Bend and the region.”
The show continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. Admission and parking are free.
Along with more than 700 exhibits, the show features daily programs, such as horse training demonstrations by Scott Daily, sprayer demonstrations and talks by county extension agents on a variety of topics. The Barton County Health Department is offering lab tests at the National Guard Armory Building, located on the Expo grounds. There is also a beer garden that opens at noon.
The show relies on dozens of volunteers organized by the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development. Chamber Board President Chad Somers had a word of thanks for those folks, saying, “I’m convinced that this community can do just about anything that we wanted to do.”
The show’s manager, Darren Dale, has years of experience organizing Farm & Ranch Shows in McCook, Neb., and Wichita Falls, Texas. “We’re committed to Great Bend; we’re committed to continuing the farm show,” Dale said. His son Taos presented awards to three of the key local volunteers: Ron Straub, Jan Westfall and Larry Westfall