The seventh annual Great Bend Farm & Ranch Expo got underway Wednesday. This huge trade show continues from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at the Great Bend Expo Complex west of town.
“We’re going to really do some celebrating this morning,” said Jan Peters, executive director of the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce & Economic Development. “So many people make this possible.”
“It’s a major undertaking,” said Darren Dale, manager of Star Enterprises, which brings the expo to Great Bend every April. “Great Bend is a true host. If you surround yourself with good people, great things happen.” As he named some of the 340 volunteers that helped make the show possible, city employees were on the list. “The City of Great Bend needs a big round of applause.”
Dale presented 2018 Volunteer of the Year awards to Melinda Kurth and Amanda Hackerott.
Agricultural technology is in the spotlight at the expo. Dale noted that Great Bend Co-op alone bought 25 booths this year. But Peters modeled a cape she had just purchased from a fashion vendor, emphasizing that this show with its 700 booths spread over 80 acres has something for everyone.
There’s free parking, and no charge for admission. There are bargains, educational programs and entertainment. Callicrate Banders brought 5,000 copies of the hardcover coffee table book “Great Ranches of the West,” with photos by Jim Keen and stories by Keen with Ami Reeves, to give away.
There are demonstrations by horse trainer JD Wing and Bradford Cattle Stock Dogs. K-State Research and Extension agents will give talks, Chad Prather will entertain at 1 p.m. Thursday, and there will be live KSN television broadcasts. There’s also a beer garden.
This is a family-friendly event. Darren and his wife Tana, their son Taos, age 12, and daughter Taya, 7, were all working at the show.
On day one was also met Cardo, a magician from Wichita, at a booth that sells magic tricks, and Mathew Searle, a 10-year-old from Utah who explained the finer points of his family’s business, BioBurst N’ Grow. Mathew showed where the soil was so alkaline that the farmer was unable to use it before adding their product. “He couldn’t even get weeds to grow,” Mathew said.