Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Husker Harvest Days - September 9-11, 2008

(Grand Island, NE) Walking into the Husker Harvest Days show on the first day of the show, the chill in the air was a harsh reminder that winter is just around the corner. George Lunniss, Rodger Berry and I were commenting that we couldn’t ever remember working at a farm show when the temperature was only 55°.

This was my first visit to Husker Harvest Days and while I’ve attended many farm shows, I kept going “Wow” with the size of the show, overall appearance of the show grounds and the number of truly impressive vendor displays.

Husker Harvest Days has a permanent show site 6 miles west of Grand Island, NE on Husker Highway. With 70 acres of exhibit area, it is the leading farm show in the western corn belt and Great Plains. In a very non-scientific count, I would venture to say this show has twice as many permanent structures as any other outdoor show I’ve attended.

There are many other “different” things at Husker Harvest as compared to other midwestern shows. A quick walk around the show and you will quickly learn the importance of water management in western Nebraska. Most notably, all of the crops grown for field demos and test plots are irrigated throughout the growing season. Then there are five large companies displaying fully operational center pivot irrigation systems right in the show grounds with countless smaller exhibitors showing everything from pumps, irrigation pipe and add-ons for tire traction. The University of Nebraska has an entire building with a couple dozen people working their exhibit almost totally focused on water management. Even the Ford truck ad in the Husker Harvest program has a picture of a truck in front of a center pivot system pulling irrigation pipe. Water management is important in western Nebraska.

The next thing I noticed was the “working” aspect of this show. The demo and test field plots completely surround the exhibit area. There are equipment demos going virtually every minute of the show. These include the latest combines and tractors as well as cattle handling equipment demos with cattle and horse training, including at least one training demo with wild burros. I even saw a camel and a kangaroo in the Purina Food exhibit area.

In the southeast corner of the show you could test drive a variety of 4-wheelers over an obstacle course set up in a combined corn field. There were often 4 or 5 four-wheelers maneuvering around the course at any one time. I think the most interesting was the large Toyota Tundra truck display. Toyota had the 2008 Tundra and a 2008 Chevy hooked up to a dynamometer with actual show attendees “drag racing” the trucks. The information from the dyno was displayed on a huge digital board for everyone to see.

George Lunnis and Rodger Berry, both from the Bridgeport store, represented All States Ag Parts at Husker Harvest Days. In addition to passing out thousands of catalogs, they displayed new and rebuilt parts and introduced many new customers to our company. We, of course, had a number of questions about the “big auction” and were proud to tell people we were the largest purchaser of tractors at the auction and had all their antique tractor needs.

Farm Progress Show – August 26-28

(Boone, IA) An All-States Ag Parts team effort represented the company at the Farm Progress Show. Tom Foss and Ryan Cory set up and tore down this year’s display. Dan “Doc” O’Connell, from Downing, worked the show booth all three days, with Jeff Webb, Rod Dowell and Darryl Jamison, all from Urbandale, working the show one day each.

This marked the 55th year of Farm Progress and their first year on the new, permanent biennial site at Boone. The show is in Iowa every other year and moves to Illinois next year. The permanent facilities in Boone have allowed the Farm Progress Show to add hard surfaced roads, permanent restrooms, a storm sewer and drainage system. It rained one day at the show and while the upgrades were beneficial to handling the rain, we know at least one of our competitors was virtually flooded out that day! We’re truly sorry for their bad luck.

Farm Progress and Husker Harvest Days are both presented by the Farm Progress company and many of the displays and vendors are similar. I think a unique demonstration at Farm Progress was the use and training of stock dogs. Another unique demonstration was the “Farm Progress Inventors Challenge”. This presentation showed the top 10 inventions for visitors to check out and vote on and included everything from a seed box tray to an all-weather hay feeder.