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Published September 14, 2010, 08:17 AM

Big Iron fixture's had a bird's-eye view since the early days

Saying that Roy Faught knows a lot about Big Iron is like saying that Warren Buffett knows a lot about investing or that Albert Einstein knew a lot about physics.

Saying that Roy Faught knows a lot about Big Iron is like saying that Warren Buffett knows a lot about investing or that Albert Einstein knew a lot about physics.

Faught, 96, has played a key role in Big Iron almost since its beginning. He’ll be at the annual farm show, which is celebrating its 30 anniversary, again this fall.

“It’s been popular from the first year,” says the retired Absaraka, N.D., farmer. “What’s amazing is how its popularity keeps increasing.”

About 70,000 to 80,000 people and upwards of 900 exhibitors are expected to attend this year’s show in West Fargo, N.D.

“Our show just keeps on growing,” says Bryan Schultz, Big Iron’s general manager.

The show features training session, demonstrations and other events focused around agriculture.

“Big Iron always has been about agriculture. The concept has never changed, and that’s why it remains popular,” Faught says.

Big Iron was launched in 1980 in Casselton, N.D., by a group of local businesspeople. Faught wasn’t among them.

The first year’s show, though popular, was hit with rain that caused problems for the people attending.

That led Faught, then the president of the Red River Valley Fair Board, to begin working to make the West Fargo fairgrounds the permanent home of Big Iron.

The Red River Valley Fair recently had moved from Fargo, N.D., to larger quarters in West Fargo and was looking to host more events, Faught says.

“Big Iron just seemed to be a good fit. And it’s been a very successful association,” he says.

But he’s careful to give credit where it’s due.

“Big Iron isn’t about the fairground, it’s about the exhibitors,” he says.

Field demonstrations

For many years, Faught helped to organize Big Iron’s field demonstrations.

Through the years, he’s watched farm equipment keep getting bigger.

Fields and farms are bigger, so equipment need to get larger, too, he says.

Early on in Big Iron’s history, Faught drafted his son, Mike, a farmer, to help organize and coordinate the field demonstrations.

Mike says he always enjoyed helping out at Big Iron, although there were years that advance preparation for it interfered with his own farming

This year, Mike and Roy will play a much smaller role in the field demonstrations.

“My age is starting to show a little bit. I just don’t have the energy I used to,” Roy says.

Mike Larson, a Big Iron director and sales executive with Pederson Farms Seed in Harwood, N.D., is in charge of organizing the field demonstrations this year.

Larson speaks highly of Mike and Roy’s many contributions to Big Iron and says that Roy, at 96, is remarkable.

“I’ve never known anyone quite like him. He’s always polite, professional, and he’s still very sharp,” Larson says.

Roy Faught says his three-decade association with Big Iron began relatively late in his long life.

“Big Iron didn’t come along until I was in my 60s,” he says. “I’m just proud to have been associated with something that’s been so successful.”

Overseas visitors coming

This will be the fourth year that the North Dakota Trade Office holds its International Visitors program in conjunction with Big Iron.

The program, which runs for a week and includes activities outside Big Iron, will draw about 100 agricultural business and government leaders from 10 countries, says Jeff Zent, communications manager for the Trade Office, a public/private partnership that seeks to expand North Dakota’s business opportunities worldwide.

Ag equipment produced in North Dakota is well-suited to crops and climate in some other parts of the world, including Russia and Kazakhstan.

Despite drought in Russia, a Russian delegation is attending again this year’s program, Zent says.