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Published August 18, 2009, 07:47 AM

100 newcomers among Dakotafest’s 541 vendors

Promoters are in high spirits as Dakotafest begins today, thanks to an increase in new exhibitors that are expected to provide attendees with a greater variety of displays.
Todd Benz, manager of Dakotafest, said 541 vendors were signed up on Monday morning for the three-day event, which features equipment displays, demonstrations, seminars, entertainment and political forums.

By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic

Promoters are in high spirits as Dakotafest begins today, thanks to an increase in new exhibitors that are expected to provide attendees with a greater variety of displays.

Todd Benz, manager of Dakotafest, said 541 vendors were signed up on Monday morning for the three-day event, which features equipment displays, demonstrations, seminars, entertainment and political forums.

Dakotafest is held on the extreme southeast side of Mitchell, at the Schlaffman farm. Gates open at 9 a.m. today; admission is $7 per person, with 18 and younger admitted free. Dakotafest runs through Thursday.

Of the 541 vendors situated this week on the land immediately south of Interstate 90, 100 are new to Dakotafest. Benz said some of the first-time vendors are new to the region while others are coming to Dakotafest because of diligent efforts on the part of organizers.

“We dug deep, kicked rocks and were able to find just an unbelievable amount of new exhibitors,” Benz said.

But a concentration on attracting new vendors to Dakotafest doesn’t mean that Benz was unaware of the event’s agricultural nucleus.

“We can go to every … fair and load the place up with crafters. That’s not the intent,” Benz said. “The intent is to bring people in agriculture that bring products or services to the agricultural industry … that have merit.”

Benz said organizers were aware that tough economic times might affect the event. However, solid exhibitor numbers and reports of numerous pre-show tickets being distributed by some organizations had Benz encouraged Monday. The current economic conditions make it especially gratifying to see smaller businesses choose to set up exhibitions, Benz said.

For smaller companies, “a business dollar is a personal dollar,” Benz said. “It’s a very difficult time for people to part with it when there’s a lot of uncertainty.”

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