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Dave Olson, Published September 09 2013

Big Iron attracts more vendor participation, bigger machines

WEST FARGO – Big Iron keeps getting bigger and bigger and in more ways than one.

The farm show held each fall at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds has grown to well over 800 vendors and the number of booths top 1,000, with a waiting list for booth openings, said Bryan Schulz, general manager of the Red River Valley Fair, which puts on Big Iron.

Vendor participation isn’t the only thing showing growth at Big Iron.

Much like the big, green Hulk outgrowing his britches, John Deere combines have become so large that Big Iron organizers plan to have talks with the company regarding enlarging the doors on the Schollander Pavilion to accommodate the larger machines.

“They put car tires on them just to be able to drive them in,” Schulz said.

Rigs are getting bigger because farms are getting bigger, said Alan Nordhagen, a John Deere salesman at Gooseneck Implement in Kenmare, who was checking out the new John Deeres on Monday as the setup for Big Iron got under way.

Nordhagen said the windows of time farmers have for seeding and harvesting can be small. With farms growing in size, farmers are looking for ways to get crops in and out quicker.

Bigger machines, he said, mean more work gets done in a shorter amount of time.

Hefty price

Greater efficiency, however, can mean hefty up-front costs.

One John Deere combine with attached header on display at Big Iron carries a price in the neighborhood of $550,000.

How often does someone look over a piece of equipment at Big Iron and promptly plunk down that kind of money?

“You’d be surprised by the number of things that are actually purchased out here,” Schulz said.

International buyers, in particular, can be big spenders. Schulz described an instance in which a buyer from Croatia purchased 10 combines – five that were going to be used in her fleet and the other five purchased as sources for spare parts.

Big Iron officially gets under way today and runs through Thursday afternoon.

If you go

What: Big Iron farm show

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday

Where: Red River Valley Fairgrounds, West Fargo

Info: Admission and parking are free.

Big Iron history:

The first Big Iron was in 1980. It was held on property owned by the Sinner family near Casselton, N.D.

The event moved to the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in 1981.

Big Iron has grown into a show boasting more than 800 vendors – companies such as John Deere and Case New Holland – and more than 1,000 booths.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555