For 20 years now, Gary Bean has polished, shined and detailed to perfection the dozens of latest-and-greatest tractors and implements that go on display at the annual Colorado Farm Show — one of the largest and most heavily attended agricultural trade shows in the nation.
On Wednesday, there were almost no other signs of life in the Island Grove parking lot where Bean was working, but history tells him that will “certainly change soon.”
The three-day Colorado Farm Show features about 200 vendors from around the country and each year has a total attendance of more than 30,000 people.
To run smoothly, the show requires the cooperation of hundreds of people, including the nearly 100 volunteers with Colorado Farm Show Inc. — the local, non-profit organization that puts on the event.
Most of the workers arrive on scene January 24, but Bean has to get a head start on everyone else.
Each of the 50-plus tractors he spiffs up can require about four to five hours to fully detail, and some of the larger equipment is the first to go in place inside the Exhibition Building.
“I beat the crowd here about every year,” Bean, a 61-year-old resident of Evans, said from the nearly silent parking lot. “I usually spend this first day up here alone. Then it gets hectic.”
As owner of GAB Detailing, Bean has been hired each of the past 20 years to polish up machinery on display for the Greeley-based Colorado Equipment and B&G Equipment, and he also does so for other dealerships in the region that show off their best.
Prepping equipment for the Colorado Farm Show is a job Bean takes seriously — mostly because the men in attendance take their “very important” jobs seriously as well.
Agriculture is perhaps the most important industry, Bean said, but one that’s so often taken for granted, he added.
Bean’s wife, Sue, co-owner and bookkeeper for the company, can attest to how important the job is to her husband.
“He even climbs all the way up there to clean the very top,” she said with a laugh, pointing upward to the CaseIH Steiger 550 Quadtrac tractor they stood next to. “No one can even get up that high to see. He does it anyway.”
In response, her perfectionist husband stood in brief silence, partially smiling, slightly shrugging at his wife — whose face is featured in a faded photo Gary keeps in his work truck. If you ask, he can barely estimate the year the photograph of the two was taken.
The devotion and perfectionism of Bean and all other workers and volunteers is what makes the annual Greeley event the success it is each year, according to Steve Foos, chairman of Colorado Farm Show Inc.
“It is a lot of work, but it really is a joy to put on the show, because of how hard everyone works ... and how well everyone coordinates,” he said. “Whether it’s our own volunteers, or other guys like Gary, we have a lot of great people up here getting this thing going. It doesn’t happen without them.”
Because of his heavy workload during the Colorado Farm Show, Bean, who normally works solo, hires eight temporary workers.
“We’ll be putting in 10 hours a day or so ... as long as it’s light out,” said Bean, who, prior to starting his own detailing business, worked at Monfort Inc. — what is now JBS USA — as a meat grader.
Sue Bean was previously a banker, and helped Gary get his start in detailing by having him polish and shine her bank’s repossessed vehicles — a job for which he was only compensated with lunches on the bank’s dollar, “an effective form of payment,” Gary said with a laugh, patting his stomach. “I can’t complain. I enjoy it. It’s a good job ... and this time of year, I’m doing it for a great event.” ❖