The fall farm show season kicks off with the 2019 Farm Progress Show, which returns to Decatur, Ill., Aug. 27-29. This year’s event adds new features, exhibits and more to the show site, returning there for the eighth time since 2005. What can you learn?
“There have been a lot of mergers, and the people you used to buy things from wear different shirts with different logos than they used to. So what do all these mergers mean to your operation?” asks Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress national events manager. He says when farmers walk among the more than 600 exhibitors, “they’ll have plenty of opportunities to see for themselves. It’s a good place to figure out what all this change means.”
FPS organizers have a singular goal: to share the biggest, brightest, newest and best in agriculture with farmers and agribusinesses, Jungmann says. And the reach goes far beyond the U.S. Representatives from more than 50 countries are expected to attend this year’s show.
“This is the big farm show, especially for corn and soybeans,” Jungmann says. “Most big exhibitors do six or seven shows corporately. If they’re in Midwest ag, there are a few shows that bubble to the top — FPS, Husker Harvest Days, National Farm Machinery Show. FPS is certainly the big one. It’s also the first one on the calendar. Everything is fresh and new before it hits the fall show cycle.”
Billed as the largest outdoor farm show in the U.S., FPS is known for its field demonstrations, complete with more than 300 acres of corn harvest, tillage and stalk baling demos. Nothing about corn planting in Illinois went according to plan this planting season, and FPS host farmers weren’t immune to those conditions. Corn went into the ground May 17, and host farmers planted 86-day corn — more like a North Dakota hybrid — in hopes it will mature in time for harvest in late August.
Here are some of the can’t-miss stops you’ll want to make time for this year:
Varied Industries Tents. That’s right, there are two tents. The VIT displays house more than 100 exhibitors under nearly 50,000 square feet of shared tent space. The main tent is located just south of the main gate on West Avenue; VIT North is in the northwest quadrant between Sixth and Seventh streets, next to ADM. “It’s where the newest, latest and greatest ideas come from,” Jungmann says.
Ride ’n’ Drive. The Ride ’n’ Drive areas are perennial favorites where visitors can try out everything from tractors to ATVs to new pickups. Jungmann says the gravel road will make it easier to get to both Ride ’n’ Drive areas and field demonstrations, all located on the north side of the exhibit field.
Tiling demos. Look for 40 acres’ worth of tiling demonstrations again this year, all north of the exhibit field. The Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association designed a master plan after the 2011 show. It put in a huge main to serve the northern half of the section, and then installed an additional 40 acres of tile every other year during the show. There will also be mock gas pipeline strikes to raise safety awareness among farmers and tile installers regarding buried gas pipelines.
New exhibit structures. Look for the Hospitality Building instead of a tent as Hospitality moves into the former Morton Building machine shed. Morton built a model home just across the street, complete with an attached garage and a separate 42-by-60-foot shed — essentially, a model farmstead. GSI has built a new 60-foot, 10-ring grain bin; a 12-by-12-foot quick-bolt tower with a viewing platform; and a 115-foot-long catwalk. AGI has also added more grain handling structures to its lot.
Major rollouts. It’s the year of the tractor, and FPS will be the first place where you can get seat time with the new AFS Connect Magnum introduced earlier this year. New tractors from Kubota (built in cooperation with Versatile) and the new North America-focused Fendt 900 Series will also be featured. That’s on top of a range of new tools from short-line equipment manufacturers, which in total usually have more than 100 new products across the show site for visitors to see.
Max, Orion and more. Look for “The Noon Show,” hosted by Max Armstrong and Orion Samuelson, each day of the show at noon on the ADM Stage, located in the Hospitality Building. And on Aug. 27, stop by at 1 p.m. for live recordings of “This Week in Agribusiness” with Armstrong, Samuelson and Greg Soulje. Catch the Peterson Farm Brothers in concert on the same stage Aug. 28 at 1:15 p.m., and stop in every day at 10 a.m. for a look at the markets with Bryce Knorr, market analyst for Farm Futures.
Horse training. Demonstrations hosted by veteran horseman Ray Ainsworth take place every day at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Lot 1009. You’ll also get a look at new tools for managing livestock in the northeast corner of the exhibit field, including a variety of chutes and livestock handling equipment, plus trailers, mixers, bunks and more.
FPS runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 27 and 28, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 29. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for ages 13-17; discounted advance tickets are available at FarmProgressShow.com. Follow along on social media with the official FPS hashtag: #FPS19.