Ag at Large

This year’s farm equipment shows bigger than ever

Just like the Super Bowl, California’s two major farm equipment shows keep growing, attracting more attendees and showcasing their main product. Not football, but farming. They will be held in February.

Growth is not knocking down the fences at Ag Expo in Tulare – the largest farm equipment show in the world – it is ignoring them altogether this year, staging an event just outside but adjacent to the traditional boundaries of the grounds in a huge temporary pavilion. The show is scheduled for Feb. 10 to 12.

Feb. 3 to 5, the Colusa Farm Show, identified as the Granddaddy of Farm Equipment Shows, may cause a bulge in the fences of the Colusa County Fairgrounds, a metaphor akin to “bustin’ at the seams.”

Participation by the area’s farm advisors and nurserymen is expected for sit-down sessions to discuss the cultural challenges of hedgerow plantings of various kinds of fruit and nut trees. A full complement of exhibitors will display their products and answer the questions of thousands of “tire kickers” and other attendees.

The “outside the fence” event at Tulare’s Ag Expo is an evening of relaxation for the    exhibitors, including an informal dinner, music, entertainment and relaxation in a huge temporary pavilion. It will begin just after the show closes for the day on Wednesday, Feb. 11. Sponsored by Budweiser, it is sure to feature some of the Clydesdales’ favorite beverage if not a Clydesdale or two in person.

This cordial accommodation to the hundreds of exhibitors arriving at the show from across America and the world is a key to the success of both shows. Sponsors bend over backwards to make the exhibitors comfortable.

At Tulare, that accommodation is expressed by 1,400 volunteers. Working for weeks ahead of the show, they prepare and pamper the grounds in league with exhibitor representatives, grading, painting, planning and preparing electrical connections, signs, demonstration arenas, roadways and equipment accesses. On show days, they are identifiable by their bright orange jackets.

Since rain must be expected, almost hoped for so farmers have to forego farm work and attend the show, drainage and solid footing are major concerns. Tons of sand, wood chips and other surface materials are trucked in to allow the thousands of visitors who walk the grounds to avoid puddles, and to provide solid ground for equipment move-ins and move-outs. And the ever-present golf carts carrying personnel, messages and provisions from one end of the grounds to the other need a non-skid surface.

The other new feature that visitors to Ag Expo can enjoy this year is expansion of the show’s popular Showcase feature. Its products, usually new, which have been minutely evaluated and credited for their ingenuity and specific application to farm needs are displayed. This year, they will also be featured at a luncheon where their manufacturers and designers will be recognized and honored.

At both shows, home cooked food served by volunteer supporters of various schools, service clubs and fraternal and beneficial organizations appeal to show-goers’ appetites from breakfast through lunch. A few booths specialize in ice cream or other desserts.

These shows are three-day extravaganzas – noisy, colorful, exciting. Ticket information is available on each show’s website, including purchase. Both are approaching their 50th years, Colusa first. They are testimonies to the stability and vitality of agriculture in the nation’s number one farm state. They help bring communities together and they help farmers prosper.

Is it any wonder they’re growing?