The fall farm show season kicks off with the 2017 Farm Progress Show, which returns to Decatur, Ill., Aug. 29-31. This year’s event adds new features, exhibits and more to the show site, returning there for the seventh time since 2005.
Farm Progress Show organizers have a singular goal: to share the biggest, brightest, newest and best in agriculture with farmers and agribusiness, says Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress director of trade shows. And in fact, the reach goes far beyond the U.S.; representatives from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the show this year.
“This is the big farm show, especially for corn and soybeans,” says Jungmann. “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., the Farm Progress Show is known for its field demonstrations, complete with more than 300 acres of corn harvest, tillage and stalk baling demos. Jungmann says corn went in the ground around April 15 in “nearly perfect” planting conditions. Host farmers plant 98-to-101-day Wisconsin hybrids so they’ll be mature and ready for harvest by late August.
What are the “can’t miss” stops you’ll want to make this year?
• Varied Industries Tents. The VITs (that’s right — there are two) are home to more than 150 exhibitors, under 55,000 square feet of shared tent space. The main tent is located just south of the main gate on West Avenue; VIT South is in the expansion area near the beer garden. Says Jungmann, “It’s where the newest, latest and greatest ideas come from.”
• Floating tractor. What? It’s true! Check out the Case IH 125 tractor as it “floats” from one end of a 100-foot pond to the other, thanks to its Mitas tires. Jungmann says it’s guaranteed to be the exhibit everyone will be talking about this year. Look for it in the expansion area on the south end of Progress City.
• Ride ’n’ Drive. The Ride ’n’ Drive areas are perennial favorites where visitors can try out everything from tractors to ATVs to new pickup trucks. Jungmann says a new 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. The group put in a huge main to serve the northern half of the section, and has installed 40 acres of tile every other year during the show.
• Better infrastructure. You’ll walk on newly paved streets at this year’s Farm Progress Show, thanks to a summer resurfacing project. “This site was built in 2005, and we’ve had lots of heavy loads coming through since then. We did an extensive road rebuild to make sure it’s a good-quality site for everybody,” Jungmann says. Look for a new permanent structure from Case IH, too.
• Major rollouts. Agco, Case IH and John Deere will all unveil new equipment at the show. From Agco, look for an expanded Challenger tractor line with the new MT700 track tractor, and its new RoGator C Series sprayers. Case IH will introduce the new CVX Drive Series for Steiger fans, a new Trident 5550 liquid/dry combination sprayer, and a new 2140 Early Riser split-row planter. John Deere will unveil its S700 Series combines, complete with new corn and grain heads.
• Max, Orion and more. Look for live recordings of “This Week in Agribusiness,” hosted by Max Armstrong and Orion Samuelson on the stage in the Hospitality Tent, every day from 2-4 p.m. Bring your lunch in with you and take in the Prairie Farmer Hour from 12:30-1:30 p.m., hosted by Prairie Farmer editor Holly Spangler and featuring a variety of guests.
• Horse training. Live demonstrations hosted by veteran horseman Ray Ainsworth will 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.
The Farm Progress Show runs Aug. 29-31, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. 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 Farm Progress Show hashtag: #FPS17.