Annual farm show a chance to learn, socialize

DeKALB – Drones and agriculture are not something you normally associate together.

That pairing is one of many sessions awaiting those who attend the 32nd annual Northern Illinois Farm Show, which is set for Wednesday and Thursday at the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center in DeKalb.

Although the basic format of the show is the same as past years, farm show director Amy LaTessa said there are a few differences.

“There are some new sessions, and the [start and end times] are different,” she said. “Plus, we are extending the private pesticide testing for both days instead of just one, because it’s been so popular.”

Admission to the show, hosted by IDEAg Group LLC and local ag-related groups, is free, but parking is $5.

“January and February are really good for farm shows because farmers can’t really do a lot in the fields,” IDEAg marketing director Samantha Kaplan said. “It’s a good time to look at new equipment and make plans.”

“It’s a time when farmers are available,” agreed Dean Johnson, a resource conservationist at the DeKalb County Water and Soil Conservation District. “A lot of farmers like to go. They are done with harvest and are ready to relax and socialize. It just gives them an opportunity to talk. They can tie in a social activity with a learning one.”

The shows, he said, are also beneficial to his organization.

“We’re not selling a product, but it’s good for us because it allows us to contact farmers and just keep up our connections with them,” he said.

At press time, Kaplan said 220 exhibitors were scheduled.

In the past, LaTessa said as many as 8,000 people have attended the farm show, which is billed as “the essential ag event in the Midwest,” though she noted attendance does depend on the weather. Most attendees are from northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin and eastern Iowa.

For many people, the highlights of the show are the new equipment displays and the educational seminars put together by a local committee.

“Whatever the hot topic is for agriculture is what we try to focus on,” Johnson said.

Wednesday’s sessions include “Marketing Outlook: How Will Planted Acres Shift in 2014?” at 9 a.m.; “Ag Technology: From Drones to Phones and Other Neat Stuff” at 11 a.m.; “Soil Health and Northern Illinois Cover Crop Panel Discussion” at 1 p.m.; and “Weather Forecasting” at 2:30 p.m.

On Thursday, “Biodiesel: America’s Advanced Biofuel” will be presented at 10 a.m. and pesticide applicator license testing will be from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

The DeKalb show is one of four the IDEAg Group hosts each year. Other shows are Minnesota FarmFest in August, DakotaFest, also in August, and the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show in December.

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