Big Iron XXVII

FARGO, N.D. - A shiny new International Visitors Program will be one of the headline items at the already-big Big Iron farm equipment and services exposition Sept. 11 to 13 at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo, N.D.

FARGO, N.D. - A shiny new International Visitors Program will be one of the headline items at the already-big Big Iron farm equipment and services exposition Sept. 11 to 13 at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo, N.D.

Gates are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The region's biggest trade exposition is free.

Wayne Venter, manager of the perennial farm show, says the show often is the region's first look at new equipment and ag input and service offerings from agribusiness providers.

The first of the machinery exhibit pre-show set-up was starting as early as Aug. 27.

The mega-event attracts an estimated 70,000 people during its three-day run.


"They just show up," Venter says, noting that equipment manufacturers are particularly close to the vest on what they're bringing to the show. The show had sold out of 8-by-10 booths by late August.

In the business

Venter, who came to the Red River Valley Fair/Big Iron management post six months ago from the Lancaster Events Center in Lincoln, Neb., has been in the farm show business for some 20 years. Among other things, he worked with Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, Neb., a show that runs the same dates as Big Iron and is about the same size.

"Both of them have 80 acres," Venter says, noting that it's difficult to compare attendance because Big Iron doesn't charge admission and other shows do, but don't release the results.

Sheer attendance isn't as important as whether the so-called "qualified buyer" walks in the door.

"If it's a qualified buyer, the exhibitors will be happy," Venter says.

For the show-goer, the advantage of a big show is that it's an opportunity to go back and forth between similar competing products, to make a direct comparison.

Venter says the show isn't making any big infrastructure changes this year, but will refine some of its outdoor exhibit configurations to be more user-friendly.


AttractionsAmong the headline items at this year's is a new North Dakota Trade Office International Visitors Program. It's more for exhibitors than for farmers, but it will add to the diversity at the event, which often attracts foreign guests.

The North Dakota Trade Office and the U.S. Commercial Service have pre-qualified and recruited agricultural equipment buyers from seven countries - Russia, Ukraine, Kazakstan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Moldova and Canada for the event.

Jim Burgum, an accounts manager for the NDTO, says his agency had hoped to get 40 companies registered for the program, but by Aug. 27, already 143 companies were registered.

"Primarily they're agricultural equipment buyers," Burgum says of the foreign guests. "Most would probably be described as dealers. Some are from associations or co-ops. Some are just farmers. Many of these buyers also have expressed interest in production, design and materials suppliers for agricultural processing and grain-handling facilities."

The program will be located in an International Visitors Pavilion, adjacent to the fair's Ag Building. It will be open to all those registered for the program.

The NDTO sent invitations to all of the 700 or so Big Iron exhibitors and had received about 10 of those. Registrations were set to close Sept. 5 and required a $450 fee. Another 20 or so members of the NDTO - ag machinery manufacturers and dealers - also are invited.

Show featuresHere are other features of Big Iron, trumpeted by the show's promoters:

Free grounds admission.


Free parking.

All ag-oriented exhibits.

Field demonstrations with free shuttle service to and from the field areas.

Free on-grounds demonstrations.

People-movers to get people from parking into the grounds areas.

Modified Tractor Pull - 5 p.m. Sept. 11 in the grandstands, featuring the Central Minnesota Pullers.

Antique Tractor Pull - 5 p.m. Sept. 12 in the grandstands.

In addition to the agricultural core, Big Iron has several companion events for spouses and others. Those include:


Craft show - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in the Craft Show Building on the grounds, with daily demonstrations.


Health Screening - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily in the Horticulture Building.

On-grounds demonstrations - Demonstration area. But still receiving demonstration forms back from exhibitors.

Ladies Brunch - 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 12, (doors open at 9 a.m.) Holiday Inn Great Hall, featuring Sandi Buttweiler of KFGO-Radio. This year's entertainment is ADAPT. A style show features Catherine's, Herberger's, Talbot's and Pendelton's.

Big Iron started in 1980 as a field demonstration in Casselton, N.D., and moved to the fairgrounds in 1981.

For information about the show, call (701) 282-2200 or (800) 456-6408 or e-mail event officials at .

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