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Published September 07 2012

Big Iron is back

WEST FARGO – With robotic farm equipment and laser-guided tractors on tap, this year’s Big Iron Farm Show at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo will give visitors a glimpse into the future.

Prefer the past or present? There’ll be plenty of old favorites on hand, too.

The sprawling agricultural expo will bring in more than 850 exhibitors and north of 80,000 visitors over three days next week. The draws range from shiny new equipment to talks on farm policy to an ever-popular craft show.

“Again this year we’ve got a great lineup,” said show manager Bryan Schulz.

The newest of the new equipment will be shown off in the demonstration field, where visitors can see driverless tractors shepherded into place via radio control and laser signals.

The trick, Schulz said, is getting them out there in the first place.

“Since it doesn’t have a driver’s seat, how do you get it out to the field is the No. 1 question,” he said,

That’s where “follow-me” mode comes in handy: The tractors can trail behind a pickup truck or all-terrain vehicle until they’re in position.

Once again, the show will host more than 100 international guests. This year, they’ll enjoy new accommodations in a refurbished Schollander Pavilion.

“That was one of my biggest things,” Schulz said. “For the money they spend, what their perception of (North Dakota) is would be in my eyes (in years past) would be that they’re being put in a Quonset building.”

Topics in the Issues and Events Center include wetlands and drainage, daily market seminars, and an ag career summit panel that includes North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani.

United Blood Services will once again bring a bloodmobile to the event, and there will be daily health screenings at the Health and Safety Center – along with a visit from Miss North Dakota Rosie Sauvageau on Wednesday.

The craft show will again be held at Bonanzaville.

If You Go

WHAT: Big Iron Farm Show

WHEN: Tuesday through Thursday

where: Red River Valley Fairgrounds

info: The show runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Admission and parking are free. For more, visit bigironfarmshow.com

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