May 11, 2023
Sure, everybody knows it’s next to impossible to get a hotel room within 60 miles of the Farm Progress Show every year, but what does the real economic impact of bringing that show to a community look like?
Try $31 million — in a single year.
That’s according to a new study from Informa, the global events company that owns the Farm Progress Show, which measures the direct and indirect dollars spent by visitors, exhibitors and local suppliers during the 2022 FPS in Boone, Iowa, at $31 million.
Matt Jungmann, national events director for Farm Progress, says when he and his team inked a deal with the city of Decatur, Ill., back in 2004, locking in 10 shows over 20 years, they estimated each year would have a $10 million economic impact. It turns out, they’ve tripled that.
“Now we’re up to $31 million, and it feels good to more than fulfill the promise with our upcoming 10th show at the Decatur site,” Jungmann says.
Teri Hammel, Decatur Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimates that more than 9,000 hotel rooms were booked in Macon County, Ill., alone during the 2021 Decatur Farm Progress Show. Her research tracked rooms only during the three-day run of the show, not those booked during the week prior or days after the show, when many exhibitors and company representatives arrive on-site for setup and teardown.
In addition to hotels, Jungmann says the $31 million figure includes landscapers on-site, trucking for every last wood chip and mum, every chair, every table, spreading internet across 4 million square feet of exhibit space, and more. It does not include Farm Progress’ donations to volunteer groups.
“Plus, that number accounts for everyone who got in the truck, drove to Decatur, fueled up, bought Casey’s breakfast pizza, spent money for lunch at the concession stand, and drove home,” he adds.
During the show, Hammel says restaurants are packed and the locals plan for it. “People here in Decatur pretty well stay home during FPS and let them pay their money here,” she says, laughing.
“This community is so welcoming of all of its visitors,” Hammel says, adding that they appreciate the international visitors, too, as they eat in local restaurants and tour area facilities.
“There’s such a sense of pride that Decatur and Forsyth have that we can share with the visitors,” she says. “This community has wrapped our arms around this whole event. We always look forward to it and are grateful that it comes back every other year.”
Impacting 2 communities
The annual Farm Progress Show rotates between Decatur, Ill., and Boone, Iowa, and while the $31 million figure was developed based on research of the 2022 show in Iowa, Jungmann says the numbers transfer back and forth easily.
“I’m an Iowa native and an Iowa State grad, so plenty makes me happy about bringing that back to Iowa,” he adds.
And as exhibits have become more expansive over the years, so has investment in a permanent show site — and in each exhibit. That means dollars are driven back into the local economy through local hardware and office supply stores. And the impact is spread out over more than three days.
Tents go up in July, and the show isn’t over the night the gates close to the public. Jungmann notes that it takes several weeks to clean up. In Illinois, concessions come out of Springfield, and local groups benefit from volunteer dollars, including Macon County 4-H, which staffs one of four concession stands at the Decatur site. All landscaping products go on a fire sale the day after the show, and Jungmann jokes that it makes for a lot of Labor Day landscaping projects for the residents of Macon County.
Jungmann, who’s worked with the Farm Progress Show for 25 years and recently served as president of the Farm Show Council, says it’s incredibly unique to have a trade show of this size in a place like Macon County, Ill., or Boone County, Iowa.
“Normally a trade show with 4 million square feet would exclusively be in Las Vegas or Orlando,” he says. “But the Farm Progress Show comes to town and focuses the entire global ag world on this community for three days.”
The 2023 Farm Progress Show will be held in Decatur, Ill., Aug. 29-31. For more information, check out FarmProgressShow.com.
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