WEST FARGO, North Dakota — The first day of the 41st annual Big Iron Farm Show put the annual event at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds on track to potentially break the show's attendance record — a stark contrast to the 2020 Big Iron, which was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cody Cashman, CEO of Red River Valley Fair and Big Iron Farm show, believes that the first day’s attendance was the same amount or even larger than the total number of attendees over the three days of the 2020 Big Iron Show.

“It’s amazing to see the huge turn out, the smiles on peoples’ faces, the kids, the families, everybody came out this year already and we’re only one day in,” Cashman said on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

While attendance was up from last year, there were two noticeable absences from the Big Iron: John Deere and Case IH.

“John Deere and Case didn’t want to join us this year, and it’s a shame because they missed out on pretty much obviously the biggest Big Iron we’ve ever had. So, shame on them. Hopefully they will want to come back next year,” Cashman said. “I think a lot of those farmers that support this area are going to notice that the green and red tractors weren’t here to support them, and I think that’s gonna hurt them in the long run.”

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However, Cashman was excited for the smaller businesses and companies to have a greater opportunity to sell their product due to the large duo not attending this year’s Big Iron.

For some vendors, the Big Iron Farm Show acts as a place to catch up with clients and see how they are doing, both in and out of the field.

“We have a lot of customers in this area, plus we get a lot of people traveling up from South Dakota and all over from our footprint, which is in seven states. This is a chance to see all of our dealers and customers come through here,” said Monte Robinson, Legend Seeds regional manager in North Dakota and western Minnesota.

Robinson attended last year’s Big Iron and said that the two events, just a year apart, are night and day.

“We all know COVID hit last year and a lot of farm shows didn’t happen. Even though Big Iron went on and we had our booth here, the crowd was really really slow. This year it’s back in full force. Everybody is excited to get out and see this again,” Robinson said.