If you’re like most farmers in Indiana, you need a change in scenery. Staring at mediocre crops every day doesn’t make them any better. Head to Decatur, Ill., and the 2011 Farm Progress Show this week. It opens tomorrow, Aug. 30 and runs through Thursday. With the new semi-permanent site first used in 2005, the show is virtually rainproof as far as exhibits go. Outdoor activities and demonstrations are still weather-dependent.
You’ll walk on paved roads. Many of the exhibitors have opted to gravel their lots. There are four clean, modern restrooms, one in each corner of the grounds. And there will be plenty of exhibitors. The show has had a waiting list for people wanting to exhibit there since early spring.
Seeing the latest companies have to offer, picking up on short-line innovations you might not see and seeing equipment in action in the field are all reasons to come. But the show isn’t just about equipment. There are also a myriad of educational activities planned for the show.
There is a soil judging contest for high schoolers Tuesday morning., The pits will be open for anyone else who want sot check out Illinois soils the rest of the week. Bill Field, Purdue University farm safety specialist, will have displays in the large health and safety tent. A number of other agencies are offering free or low-cost health screening services, and providing information there.
The soil conservation tent will hold a host of agencies discussing various aspects of conservation. Personnel will be on hand to answer questions on everything from waterways to wildlife programs.
One big effort in Illinois is development of future crops for cellulosic ethanol production and alternative energy use. There are long-term plots on the north end of the grounds devoted to this purpose, and University of Illinois specialists will be discussing various topics related to these efforts.
There are also seminar tents offering a range of speakers. And some individual companies have their own programs planned. Check the program inside your August Indiana Prairie Farmer. The program insert will be available free once you enter the grounds.
As always, Farm Progress Companies will sponsor the family living tent with programs geared more toward farm women, plus a livestock demonstration area. There will also be exhibits of tractors and equipment form days gone by. This year, those will be located outside the actual grounds on one corner of Tent City.
Decatur, Ill. is less than a three-hour drive from downtown Indianapolis and a two-hour drive form Lafayette. Don’t let distance prevent you from checking out what is still the showcase of agriculture.