Minnesota Farmfest - the annual farm show that’s grown into both a state tradition and the nation’s third-largest outdoor ag show - returns this month, with both new offerings and old favorites.

“We’re excited. We’ve got some really, really great events,” says Raymond Bianchi, senior director of expositions and events for the American Farm Bureau, IDEAg Group.

The IDEAg group is a subsidiary of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which bought Farmfest two years ago.

More than 30,000 people are expected to attend this year’s show, which will feature roughly 700 exhibitors in more than 1 million net square feet. The footage ranks Farmfest behind only annual outdoor farm shows in Louisville, Ky., and Tulare, Calif.

This year’s new offerings include emphasis on rural broadband and Orion Samuelson, the legendary farm broadcaster, Bianchi says.

Schedule of events

Aug. 4: Rural Broadband Day, with demonstrations and information sessions from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. “If you’re interested in technology, come the first day,” Bianchi says.

Aug. 5: Orion Samuelson Day, with events including a grain and livestock marketing update at 9 a.m., a panel discussion of ag policy issues at 10:30 a.m. and a panel discussion of the public perception of U.S. agriculture at 1:15 p.m. Samuelson will be at Farmfest both to broadcast and as a member of the panel discussion on the changing perception of agriculture.

Aug. 6: Highlights include a weather and ag marketing update at 9 a.m., a session on preparing for catastrophic livestock losses at 10:30 a.m. and recognition of the Minnesota Farm Family of the Year at 1:30 p.m.

Crop prices have tumbled in the past few years, but Farmfest is thriving, Bianchi says.

“We’re seeing growth in all areas,” he says. “Exhibitors are making investment in shows that deliver the right attendees. We draw a really great audience.”

Its history

Farmfest is now in its fourth decade, though not always with the same location, ownership and management.

The inaugural one was held on a farm near Vernon Center in 1972, with the event hosting the World Plowing Championship for the first time in the U.S.

The second Farmfest was held on a different farm and promoted as an ag festival during America’s bicentennial celebration. But bad weather led to financial problems, and the event filed bankruptcy.

Later, a promoter bought the Farmfest name and produced it as an ag trade show.

In 1994, Farmfest moved to Redwood County, where it since has been held every year.

In 1997, Farmfest and Dakotafest, a sister event held annually in Mitchell, S.D., were purchased by Cygnus Farm Shows.

The American Farm Bureau Federation bought Farmfest and Dakotafest in 2013.

The relationship with the American Farm Bureau Federation has gone extremely well, Bianchi says.

More information on Farmfest, visit www.ideaggroup.com/farmfest.