Dakotafest looks toward annual growth
On South Dakota farms, there are more than 25,000 unpaid workers. This statistic was one of many in Matthew Diersen's presentation at Dakotafest about trends of farm operators and households in South Dakota. Diersen told the crowd gathered under ...
On South Dakota farms, there are more than 25,000 unpaid workers.
This statistic was one of many in Matthew Diersen's presentation at Dakotafest about trends of farm operators and households in South Dakota.
Diersen told the crowd gathered under the South Dakota University tent at Dakotafest on Thursday that this number may seem large, but many of the workers are not operators nor hired laborers, but most likely other family members who are not being compensated. He used an example of his children, who, when they mow the lawn, Diersen said they contributed "sweat equity" into the household.
Many of the statistics in Diersen's presentation - such as the amount of unpaid workers in South Dakota - were from the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which allowed attendees to compare how their operations compared with a few of the state trends presented by Diersen.
Diersen, a professor and SDSU Extension risk/business management specialist, was one of 24 education sessions at Dakotafest this year, an event that has been going on for 26 years.
According to Samantha Castro, marketing manager for IDEAg Group, Dakotafest is one of the largest agriculture trade show in the country, but also one of the fastest growing.
"I expect that we will continue to grow over next couple years and make more room for exhibit space," she said.
Dakotafest spans more than 50 acres of space on the Schlaffman farm, southeast of Mitchell, where more than a million square feet of exhibit space sits, Castro said.
The space is put to good use and walking through the Dakotafest grounds, attendees could see and visit with more than 542 exhibitors.
"It is really the one-stop shop for South Dakota agriculture," Castro said.
But it's not just South Dakotans who are attending Dakotafest, Castro said a lot of surrounding states make a trip up to the trade show, including North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming and even a few attendees from Canada.
IDEAg Group produces the Dakotafest each year, Castro said, and SDSU serves as a large partner for the event, bringing the extension service out with experts and numerous education sessions - such as Diersen.
Dakotafest might be the place to be when it comes to agriculture, but the annual event also serves as "jumping off point" for South Dakota politics, Castro said. On Wednesday, Rep. Kristi Noem and Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds stopped by Dakotafest to talk about the ag industry as a part of a forum. On Thursday, candidates Paula Hawks and Jay Williams both spoke out to attendees in policy discussion sessions.
Last year a total of 28,550 people attended Dakotafest, Castro said, even after shutting down for one day due to weather. Two years ago, an approximate 29,000 people attended, and Castro said this year is pacing to be on track with the 2014 attendance, but official numbers are not yet available.
Other than being too hot, Castro said, some of the best feedback she hears year after year is not only the amount of attendees, but also the quality.
"On the exhibitor end, they really appreciate the quality of attendees," Castro said. "They do quite a bit of business while they are here."
This year, officials with Dakotafest created a mobile app for people to download that included features such as the full schedule, a list of exhibitors and the ability to set reminders for specific events. Castro said the introduction of the app went really well with more than 1,000 downloads.
Castro said IDEAg Group also plans to continue adding features to Dakotafest, similar to this year's addition of the Reaves Buildings Innovation and Technology Campus.
Next year's Dakotafest is set for Aug. 15-17, 2017.