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Published July 14, 2010, 08:58 AM

Farm Technology Days is not just for farmers

Pierce County is hosting the state of Wisconsin's Farm Technology Days July 20-22, and, while heavy on the technology, the event will be a mix of past and present, entertainment and education, fun and functionality.

By: Judy Wiff, Hudson Star-Observer

OK, so you don’t know the difference between silage and forage. You wouldn’t dream of asking to test drive a 300-horsepower, four-wheel-drive tractor, and you have little interest in the newest technology for handling animal waste.

But the volunteers who’ve spent almost three years organizing this year’s Farm Technology Days are betting they’ve planned more intriguing activities than you can enjoy in a single day.

Pierce County is hosting the state’s FTD July 20-22, and, while heavy on the technology, the event will be a mix of past and present, entertainment and education, fun and functionality.

Here’s a sampling of activities:

Family Living Tent

Family Living Committee Co-chairwomen Carolyn Fenske and Karen Schumaker have gathered a tent full of booths that celebrate families, family time, health, learning and entertainment.

A stage in the 60-ft.-by-180-ft. tent will offer entertainment — ranging from musicians and vocalists to a collector of vintage clothing — all three days. Musical groups will provide something for most tastes, whether you enjoy watching a marching band or listening to Dixieland, country, barbershop, bluegrass or folk music.

The Pierce County Public Health Department will offer tetanus vaccines daily for adults under 65, and workers at a computer and networking booth will provide answers to technological questions dealing with downloads, virus protection and family teleconferencing.

The St. Croix Genealogical Society will show visitors Internet sites that are helpful in searching for ancestors and display informative publications. UW-Extension will offer tips and activities demonstrating how to save money on food, energy and other household expenses.

Representatives of the Great River Road Wine Trail will offer advice on wine-making techniques and provide information about grapes suitable for growing in this region.

Horse performances

Mills Fleet Farm, the largest exhibitor at FTD, will provide continuous entertainment in its 150-foot-by-250-foot arena.

Arena shows will include the Preifert Percheron six-horse Texas Thunder Team, Roman riding performances, the Meyer Belgian 10-horse Pyramid Hitch Team, the Rough Riders Drill Team, sheep dog demonstrations and calf scramble and “mutt’n bust’n” competitions.

Fleet Farm’s 40-foot round pen will feature cattle handling demonstrations, therapy horse “Nevada Joe” and demonstrations by horse training experts Lynn Palm on Tuesday, Michael Richardson on Wednesday and John Lyons on Thursday. The Wisconsin Horse Council will also present demonstrations each day.

Arts and Crafts Tent

This tent brings together items made by artists and craftspeople from around the county.

In addition to vendors who have previously sold their products at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, there will be many local vendors coming to the show for the first time.

Co-chairs Kristi Richardson and Lisa Coyne say shoppers will be pleased with the many unique items in the Country Mercantile.

Items offered include locally made pottery, quilts, jewelry, homemade lotions and candles, farm-themed items, antiques, hand-blown glass vases, goat milk soap, original oil paintings, embroidered and sewn items, braided rugs and handmade dolls.

Courtesy Tours

Farmers enjoy telling their story to the majority of the population not engaged in production agriculture, says Jay Richardson, who has organized a new feature called “Courtesy Tours.”

About 50 dairy and crop producers have volunteered to take small groups on tours of Tent City.

During the tours, participants are welcome to ask guides about the equipment on display and about modern agriculture in general.

The goal is to welcome and educate those who might not call a farm “home,” said Richardson. Tours will leave about every 10 minutes from the Applied Technology Education Tent.

Progress Pavilion

In this tent, homeowners can have their drinking water tested, visit with UW-Extension Master Gardeners, see an energy-generating bike and find a variety of UW-Extension publications.

Visitors can also meet with specialists ready to suggest treatments for ailing plants or sick soils or identify rocks. Experts will also offer advice on managing insects and weeds and provide information about wildlife.

Heritage displays

FTD visitors will have the opportunity to see a large variety of historical farm equipment — including tractors, harvesting and milking equipment, small engines and farm trucks, report Heritage Tractor Committee Co-chairmen Dean Bergseng and Jerry Van Heukelom.

More than 300 pieces of heritage farm equipment will be shown. All pieces are loaned from area farmers and heritage equipment enthusiasts. Some of the machinery will be in operation each day while other pieces will be for display only.

Demonstrations — at 10:30 a.m. all three days and at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday — will feature grain threshing, corn shredding, straw baling and lumber sawing. On Thursday at 1 p.m. exhibitors will demonstrate plowing and disking with both horses and tractors.

All demonstrations will take place on Heritage Hill in the southwest corner of Tent City, (Vorwald and North Sixth Street).

In addition to the outside demonstrations, the Heritage Tractor Committee and the Pierce County Historical Society will display a tent full of small tools, milking equipment and other farm-related items.

Youth Tent

The Youth Tent will hold learning exhibits by 3M, General Mills, BioTrek, St. Croix Valley Bird Club and Wisconsin Farm Bureau. Visitors will find information on fly fishing and fly tying presented by the National Park Service, Internet safety tips and interactive farm safety simulations.

Located in this tent is the youth stage where a variety of performances will entertain FTD visitors all three days.

Not far from the Youth Tent is the outdoor arena where visitors can witness ambulance accident simulations, fly fishing demonstrations, 4-H Gymkana horse riding, dog agility demonstrations and 4-H llama projects.

Tuesday’s events include the FFA Tractor Driving Competition and Soils Judging Contest. Stage performances will include the Wisconsin Show Choir and plays by the Foster Town and Country 4-H Club from Eau Claire County and the Trailblazers 4-H group from Hudson.

Wednesday’s stage events feature the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, the River Falls children’s musical “E-I-E-I Oops” and the Borderline Rebels 4-H Club from Chippewa County.

Children are invited to visit the Farm Family Adventure Tent with hands-on activities that teach weather safety, gardening tips, disability awareness, water safety, electrical science and animal trivia. Children can also spend time in the “barnyard” playing in the corn box, roping a calf or milking a cow.

For a full schedule of Farm Technology Days events, go to www.Piercefarmtech.com and click on “Daily schedule” under “Farm Technology Days Info.”

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