The third-annual Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo closed Friday after another successful three-day run. The hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of attendees have gone and the Expo Complex is empty.
There were many who doubted such a venture would take root. After all, it would take place in the shadow of the mighty 3-i Show that had dominated regional farm shows for decades.
It took 200-plus local volunteers to make it happen every other year. Could the community pull together that kind of support every year?
The logistics were mind-boggling.
Some background is in order. In the spring of 2011, after all those years of making a biennial visit to Barton County, 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.
The 3i Show filled local hotels and restaurants and became a boom for local business people.
But, the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and other dedicated volunteers refused to surrender. They were undaunted by the prospect of throwing a farm show party annually.
They found Bird City resident and long-time farm show promoter Darren Dale.
A veteran of these events, Dale attracted about 700 exhibitors from around the United States and abroad for the three-day event that ended Friday. The 3i usually brought in about 500.
Now, the Great Bend expo has become a stable part of the farm show landscape. There are even participants who prefer our show the highly touted 3i.
Kudos go out to those involved. Congratulations.