The new, first-ever Great Bend Farm and Ranch Show is only a week away and promoter Darren Dale can hardly wait.
“There’s a real buzz, not only in Great Bend, but in the central part of the United States,” said Dale, owner of Star Enterprises of Bird City who already manages shows in McCook, Neb., and Wichita Falls and Montague County, Texas. “There is a lot of excitement and anticipation.”
The show runs Wednesday through Friday, April 11-13 at the Expo Complex west of town. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. There is free parking and admission each day.
Opening ceremonies will take place at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Expo III. Attending for the ribbon cutting will be Great Bend Mayor Mike Allison, Congressman Tim Huelskamp and Kansas Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman.
“The show is a partnership between Mr. Dale and the Great Bend chamber,” said show chamber chairperson Jan Westfall. Involved were 26 committees with over 300 volunteers.
“The city, county and our business community support the show with staffing and volunteers,” Westfall said. “It’s an exciting adventure and I am so glad to be a part of the ‘first’ show.’” She chaired the 3i Show the last three times it was in Great Bend.
“It is really very humbling to see the local support of all those involved,” Dale said.
There are over 500 exhibitors from 27 states, as well as Canada and Australia registered. “The south runway is more full than it has been for 15 years,” Dale said. He’s gotten calls not only from vendors, but also from ag producers asking about the show.
But, there are more than ag-related exhibits.
Westfall said there will be various demonstrations, including sprayer use and horse training techniques. In addition, the Barton County Health Department and the Barton County K-State Research and Extension Service will offer special health screenings and educational programs.
The Great Bend Noon Lions Club is sponsoring the Lions Sight Foundation mobile vision screening unit, which will be open the same hours as the show.
After the close of the 57th-annual 3i Show last spring, it was announced the 3i Show would no longer come to town every other year. Eddie Estes, chief executive officer of the Western Kansas Manufacturers’ Association which sponsors 3i, said his show will no longer alternate between Barton County and Garden City. Instead, starting this year, it will permanently be held in Dodge City, where the WKMA is based.
As for Great Bend, it is estimated the new expo will bring $2.5 million into the community annually, instead of every other year as did 3i. Historically, 3i created an economic boom by filling motels, restaurants and other businesses.
For more information on the show, visit greatbendfarmandranchexpo.net.