Colorado Farm Show draws record-breaking crowds
by Becky Talley
Fence Post Staff Reporter
The draw of the Farm Show was a combination of booths that displayed various products and the actual equipment that was set up in the various buildings.
Photo by Becky Talley For three days Greeley, Colo., was the epicenter of agricultural activity. Farm equipment from all over the region was brought in and put on display for all to see.
And though the weather was cold and the wind was biting, people still came to look at the exhibits, participate in the seminars and overall make this the most successful Colorado Farm Show ever.
More people attended the 2002 Colorado Farm Show than have attended any of the 38 years that it has been held.
“We were very surprised and pleased,” said Eric Angus, the assistant chairman of this year’s show.
First day attendance was record-breaking with around 12,500 people. Wednesday drew in around 11,600 and Thursday’s attendance numbered around 9,200. This brought total show attendance to about 33,000, said Angus. This number blew last year’s record-breaking attendance ” of just over 24,000 ” out of the water.
“The show was just very well attended and every exhibitor that I talked was very pleased with the people that came through,” said Angus.
The events were kicked off by keynote speaker and United States Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Jim Moseley. Moseley led discussion on the farm bill, safe food, trade and the bio-terrorism issues that are facing ranchers and farmers today.
A major topic was raising awareness among the agricultural community and among consumers, according to Moseley. With all of the possible bio-terrorism issues it is important to make producers aware of the possibilities without upsetting the public.
“The Department of Agriculture is walking that fine line between raising your awareness and not raising that anxiety,” Moseley said.
After his speech, Moseley was open to listening to local farmers’ questions and discussing their issues.
“I really appreciate the opportunity to be invited to Colorado,” he said.
This speech was just the first in a long line of talks and seminars.
Tuesday was agricultural day and beef day. Seminars for agricultural day covered topics such as risk management, human relations, estate planning and trends in the agriculture markets.
Seminars on beef cattle were held to discuss feed strategies and Internet use for cattle information exchange.
Wednesday was Dairy Day and was a big hit among the producers attending.
“Dairy is very popular with people in the area,” said Angus.
The final day brought in equine days, for its second year in a row. This year the equine program featured the first live-horse demonstration for a trimming/shoeing demonstration presented by Gene Ovnicek, a nationally renowned farrier and clinician. Ovnicek is a leading researcher in farrier sciences and has helped develop the Natural Balance method for trimming and shoeing.
Bonnie and Terry McClure provided the horse for the demonstration and helped bring it to the Colorado Farm Show.
Gene Ovnicek points to different areas of the hoof during the Trimming and Shoeing Demonstration that was part of Equine Day.
Photo by Becky Talley
The McClures both serve on the Farm Show educational committee and thought that a program like this would be well received.
They contacted local veterinarian, Wade Shoemaker, and decided to bring Ovnicek to the program. They wanted to help people learn about the horse’s hoof and avoid the common problems that often require a visit from the vet.
“He is the frontrunner as far as a lot of foot research,” said Dr. Shoemaker. “I thought this would be a good thing for the area for as many horses we have.”
According to Bonnie McClure there were more participants than she had anticipated. “This (Equine Days) was hugely popular this year,” she said.
In addition to visitor numbers, the Farm Show featured large numbers of exhibitors as well. Exhibitor spaces were sold out. There were 325 exhibitors and 450 booths altogether, according to Angus. There were people displaying their wares from Washington to New York.
“(The) reputation of the Farm Show and success of vendors brings people in, but word of mouth is extremely important,” said Angus.
One main reason for the increase in exhibitors is the new Community Building at Island Grove Regional Park.
The building added 60,000 square feet that has not been available in the past. It is tall enough to allow large equipment to be put on display, as was evidenced by several equipment companies at the Farm Show.
The new building is also thought to be a factor in the increased attendance this year.
“Attendance was excellent, double of what it was last year,” said Dave Popham of Agland, an exhibitor in the new building. “With the new building people stand at a booth longer because they have more room and don’t feel like they have to get out of the way.”
The Farm Show obtained a $1 million loan to pay for the building, so some of the money made by the non-profit Farm Show will go into paying it off. The rest of the earnings will go into next year’s show fund and to the Island Grove Regional Park for improvements, etc.
Though the success of the Show will be measured in profits, attendance and overall smooth operation of the events, the true recognition should go to the people behind the scenes.
The Farm Show is run almost entirely from volunteer work. Only two of the 85-plus staff were paid for their services.
According to Angus, the volunteers were an excellent, hard working group of people who helped ensure the success of the Farm Show.
“I would like to thank the public for coming out and thank the volunteers for all the hard work and hours that put into this year’s Show,” he said.