No matter how cold the weather, the Fort Wayne Farm Show lures farmers by the thousands from their routines every year. If this year's show, Jan. 15-17 at Memorial Coliseum, is typical, 35,000 people are likely to show up during the three-day event.
This will be the 24th year for the show at the Coliseum, said Farm Show Director Fred Cline, and it has all the marks of success so far. A key indicator: As it has done for years, the show has sold out all the space it has available for vendors and exhibitors. This year, that amounts to more than 350 businesses.
The range of exhibitors reflects the purchasing power and the range of interests of farmers today. As always, the majority of vendors there are selling agricultural equipment and supplies, from pole barns and grain dryers to pesticides and seed. But the farm show's vendors also provide extras that range from evangelism and legal help to investment advice and fine chocolates.
And, like the rest of the business world, farmers will find an array of electronics to improve their operations, from the efficiency of planting to the ease of bookkeeping.
“That has really come on strong,” Cline said of electronic enhancements for agriculture, “to the point where it's just expected.”
Cline works with Purdue University and the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District to organize a packed schedule of experts who present programs throughout the farm show. A headliner this year comes at midday Jan. 16, when Chris Hurt, a professor in agricultural economics at Purdue, who will discuss the effects of recent federal policies on agriculture, at 11:30 a.m., and provide his take on the prospect for grain and livestock markets this year, at 1 p.m.
Other presentations will look at farm safety, new fertilizer rules, agri-tourism, crop insurance and pesticide management, among other topics.
“You can go to a county fair and look at new machines,” Cline said. “Our show has become more of a continuing education seminar for the professional farmer.”