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Published September 07 2010

Ag Secretary Vilsack to attend Big Iron

If you go

With dozens of new vendors, some 80,000 expected visitors and a handful of high-profile politicians in the mix, this year’s Big Iron Farm Show promises to be a big draw.

The annual agribusiness expo runs Sept. 14-16 at the Red River Fairgrounds in West Fargo. More than 600 vendors will fill more than 900 booths for the show, said Brian Schulz, the show’s general manager. A newly renovated barn will make room for 67 new vendors, he said.

“We’re growing the show,” he said. “It’s just another opportunity for people wanting to get in.”

Among the planned highlights of this year’s show: a demonstration of a one-pass air seeder and a visit from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Vilsack will be part of programming from the show’s Events and Issues Center. Farm broadcaster Don Wick, who helps plan the center’s events, said landing a Cabinet-level official for the show “is a big deal.”

The center will also feature appearances by two pairs of candidates locked in statewide races. North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner candidates Republican Doug Goehring and Democrat Merle Boucher will hold a debate-style event the morning of Sept. 14. North Dakota U.S. Senate candidates Republican John Hoeven and Democrat Tracy Potter will hold a forum the next day.

As has been the case for the past few years, about 100 international guests will be among Big Iron’s visitors. Jeff Zent, communications director for the North Dakota Trade Office, said Big Iron serves as the anchor for a week of agriculture events for foreign visitors.

Many of those visitors are from countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine that have high demand for agriculture equipment. Because conditions in those countries are similar to those in North Dakota, Big Iron is an attractive destination, Zent said.

“They grow the same crops, they have the same soil, they face the same weather challenges,” he said.

Despite ongoing economic turmoil, Schulz said, vendors are still eager to get in the door – so much so that dozens are on a waiting list for booth space. And it’s never too early to plan ahead: He said the majority of this year’s vendors will put down their deposits for 2011 before they leave.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502