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Published September 09 2011

Tiling in focus at Big Iron

West Fargo - In the past few years, the fields at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds here have been so damp for the Big Iron Farm Expo that equipment demonstrations have been nigh-impossible.

“Last year, we weren’t able to do demonstrations at all,” said Bryan Schulz, general manager. “We weren’t even able to send a tractor out there, unless we wanted to pull it out with another tractor.”

This time around, the solution will be a demonstration itself. The show will bring in a contractor to tile the fields for water drainage – an increasingly popular practice in wet years.

“Tiling has become a very integral part in the valley,” Schulz said. “With the way that the weather has been being so rainy, this is a great showcase.”

Schulz said he expects this year to be bigger – and drier – than ever for the expo, which is Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. More than 800 agribusiness vendors will attend, with a waiting list of another 60 to 70.

This year, organizers moved the annual craft show to nearby Bonanzaville, freeing up another building to house about 80 more vendors. It’s the second consecutive year the show has added major vendor space after a renovated barn opened last year.

“Every year we continue to grow,” Schulz said.

Last year, a visit from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the Issues and Events Center was among the show’s highlights. He won’t be back, but invitations are out to governors Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota and Mark Dayton of Minnesota to attend. Schulz said their participation is up in the air.

On Thursday, Miss North Dakota Ariana Walker will be on hand. She’ll be working at the health screening area – a “one-stop shop” for farmers to get check-ups during a busy time of the year, Schulz said.

“For a lot of farmers, this is their toughest time to get in and do anything because they’re out farming,” he said. Check-ups will be conducted by fourth-year students from North Dakota State University’s College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Sciences.

Big Iron will also serve again as a showcase for a contingent of international visitors hosted by the North Dakota Trade Office. About 110 visitors from a10 countries will attend, including major delegations from Romania, Uruguay, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Russia.

It’s the fifth year of that trade office program, which builds relationships between regional companies and international agribusiness buyers.

If you go

- What: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday

- When: Red River Valley fairgrounds, West Fargo

- Where: Admission and parking are free

- Tickets: Call (701) 282-2200 or visit bigironfarmshow.org

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