Big Iron Farm Show pushes onward, celebrating 40th year

While the COVID-19 pandemic has cancelled many events this season, the Big Iron Farm Show decided to push onward for farmers and producers.

The first day of the 2020 Big Iron Farm Show had smaller crowds than most years, but still steady traffic through the show. (Jenny Schlecht / Agweek)

WEST FARGO, N.D. — The Big Iron Farm Show has been welcoming farmers, producers and the general public through its gates for the past 39 years. Though COVID-19 has drastically changed life and canceled many events, the Big Iron Farm Show was dedicated to opening their gates once again for their 40th show, despite the pandemic.

“It was kind of a no brainier. We were able to pull this off because the layout of Big Iron is already so spread out, social distanced and most of it is outside. It was a hard decision at first, but looking around today, I know it was the right decision to make,” said Cody Cashman, general manager of the Big Iron Farm Show.

For some exhibitors, it was important to attend this year’s Big Iron Farm Show as well.

“It's a different year obviously this year with COVID-19, but it's a way for us to get out and speak to growers, so it was important for us to come,” said Scott Hegge with Red River Valley Commodities.

The show, held annually at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo, opened on Tuesday, Sept. 15. It runs through Thursday, Sept. 17.


Crowds were smaller at the first day of the 2020 Big Iron Farm Show, but exhibitors reported that the people who did come were ready to do business. Photo taken Sept. 15, 2020. (Jenny Schlecht / Agweek)

The Big Iron Farm Show team added precautions with exhibitors' health and safety in mind. The show has implemented hand washing and hand sanitizing stations, moved the food court to the edge of the show, taken exhibitor booths out of the middle of the buildings, mandated wearing masks for staff, encouraged social distancing and encouraged attendees to wear masks as well.

While the show’s traffic on the first day was a little slower than a normal year, still over 600 exhibitor booths were claimed and a steady flow of attendees made their way around the fairgrounds. Though the number of attendees may be down, those who attended still came with one thing in mind: shopping.

“The big thing was that agriculture is everything to this state. The whole reason as to why we did it was because for these exhibitors, all the other shows were canceled. We needed to do this. I don't think we are going to hit our normal 60,000-70,000 attendance mark; the real buyers are here and here to shop,” Cashman said.

Looking back on the last 40 years, Big Iron has evolved. And this year, no doubt, will be a Big Iron that goes down in history.

“It really was a group of farmers that got together and really wanted to showcase some of the new equipment that was coming out. The show has snowballed from there and has grown to become one of the biggest, if not the biggest, farm show in the country. To me, the show is going great. So far, so good,” Cashman said.

Emily grew up on a small grains and goat farm in southern Ohio. After graduating from The Ohio State University, she moved to Fargo, North Dakota to pursue a career in ag journalism with Agweek. She enjoys reporting on livestock and local agricultural businesses.
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