Story & Photos by Terri Licking
Thedford, Neb.

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November 24, 2012
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McCook Farm and Ranch Expo

The 5th annual McCook Farm and Ranch Expo was held at the Red Willow County Fairgrounds in McCook, Neb., on November 14-15. This expo is one of three organized and produced by Star Expos. Darren Dale of Bird City, Kan., with help from wife, Tana, also manage and produce the Wichita Falls Ranch and Farm Expo, set for March 6-7, 2013 and the Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo set for April 10-12, 2013.

“This Expo is the smallest of the three, but it is growing. McCook is only an hour from where I live, and with the Kiplinger Arena, which is a 300-by-150-foot building; it didn’t take much for us to see an Expo could work well here. We have not been disappointed and it will only get bigger and better.” Tom Kiplinger, McCook rancher and cowboy, was the benefactor for the arena, dedicated as a memorial to his mom, Alice. He saw the potential of growth for this expo and other events so built another building after the 2011 show. The 350 vendors are in five buildings now and the dealers of large equipment, which sits on the midway, are under an open air pavilion.

“The expo has something for everyone. Latest farming technology and equipment, livestock handling equipment, home furnishings and décor, crafts and so much more.” Puppies for sale, and the River Valley Alpacas form Parks, Neb., with their three alpacas drew the most attention of the youngest visitors. Vendors came from 25 states, Canada and Australia. “From Australia is a repeat vendor of power-post drivers, and for the first time, Highline Feed Mixers from Canada came down. Vendors from some of the farthest states included from Washington, Agri Tool and Supply and from Maryland a vendor selling net wrap for bales.”

“We chose this time of year for this expo as most farmers and ranchers are done with harvesting, weaning and such and gets them to start thinking about next year.” Unique to the Expo in McCook is a working ranch horse sale. “This is the only farm and ranch expo that offers it that I am aware of,” said Darren. “The Cattlemen’s Classic in Kearney has one, but that is a livestock show.” Nine horses from Kansas and Nebraska were for sale this year. The top seller was a 4-year-old mare consigned by Quirt and Amber Hunt of North Platte which brought $5,500. Close to 1,000 people were on hand Wednesday night during the horse sale and the FFA benefit auction that followed.

Also unique to the McCook Expo is the High Quality Beef — From Gate to Plate Program. This event is sponsored by Certified Angus Beef, Coppermill Steakhouse and Willow Creek Meats. Heifers from sponsor, Heartland Cattle Company, were on display (the Gate) that had been selected and genetically tested for growth and carcass traits. The audience was shown presentations on new genetic testing technology combined with proper management techniques. CAB gave an on-site carcass fabrication demonstration and Willow Creek and the Coppermill demonstrated beef recipes and gave out samples (the Plate) so one could taste the difference between a CAB level product and Select/Standard product.

Darren is fast to acknowledge that this event or any of the others could not be done without the commitment and dedication of the multitude of sponsors. “The corporate sponsors — Plains Equipment, Coyote Country Radio Station and the American Hat Company, have been with me from the first one. My family and friends gave up a week to get ready for this show.” He and his wife Tana have a son, 7, and a daughter, 2. “Grandparents help with the biggest job, that of babysitting.”

All of their hard work was indeed worth it. Mark your calendars for November 20-21, 2013 for a “bigger and better” McCook Farm and Ranch Expo. ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Nov 24, 2012 04:00AM Published Feb 4, 2013 11:03AM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.