Show organizers are pulling out all the stops for the 2016 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in Walworth County near Lake Geneva.
This year’s show will be held Tuesday, July 19, through Thursday, July 21, at Snudden Farms in the Town of Zenda. Snudden Farms is owned and operated by Steve Snudden and his family. The farm has been in Steve's family since 1925, when his grandfather, Harvey Snudden, purchased the farm. Steve's parents, Kip and Marilyn, assumed ownership in the early 1960s. Steve took over the farm in the fall of 1977 during his senior year of high school.
Today, Snudden Farms is home to 1,700 Holstein cows with a rolling herd average of 28,000 pounds. The Snuddens grow crops on 3,000 acres.
Visitors will not be allowed to walk through the farm buildings on the farm due to biosecurity concerns. But they can take a guided tour on trams.
“The farm tour will include the new heifer and calf facility that holds 1,500 animals," explains Peg Reedy, 2016 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days executive secretary and Walworth County Extension agriculture agent. "They will also see the feed storage and bunker silos, the parlor which was just expanded to a double-32 milking parlor, and the freestall barns. They will see a sand separation system that separates the manure into sand, fiber and liquid and allows the farm to recycle some of their sand.”
On the grain handling tour, visitors will board buses that will take them from Tent City to the nearby Farm City Elevator.
"There will be five stations that will show how the grain is handled when it is harvested from area fields," Reedy explains. "They ship a lot of grain out of the facility and it is weighed, graded, offloaded into pits for bin storage, and then loaded onto rail cars or into shipping containers for shipment to buyers."
The show will feature daily field demonstrations, several theme tents and more than 600 commercial exhibits in Tent City. Lots of experts will be on hand to answer questions about everything from weeds, soil and insects to water quality and dairy modernization. Showgoers are encouraged to bring their largest weed to the show for the Biggest Weed Contest. Winners will be announced daily. Drinking water testing will be available on-site.
Reedy says field demonstrations will be held daily from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on 300 acres of alfalfa and 80 acres of wheat.
"All of the alfalfa will be made into baleage," Reedy says. "We will be baling wheat straw and no-till drilling cover crops into the wheat stubble."
Demonstrations will include:
• hay mowing
• hay merging
• hay chopping
• wheat combining
• wheat straw raking
• wheat straw baling
• no-till drilling
"From 11:30 a.m. to noon and 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. each day, we will have a question and answer session with the equipment operators out in the field following the field demonstrations," Reedy says. "That's good for prospective buyers but it's also good for those who don't know much about modern agriculture."
Hundreds of equipment manufacturers and dealers from the Midwest will be onsite to discuss visitors’ needs and available options, Reedy notes.
Local foods featured
The menu will be all about Walworth County. There will be six food tents serving sheherd's pie, a smoked pork bowl, savory chicken wraps, Portabello mushroom and Swiss brats, Vidalia onion brats, and Packer brats. Traditional brats, hamburgers and cheeseburgers will also be available.
“Our menu items were selected to represent the agriculture and food industry in our area,” Reedy explains. "We made a very conscious effort to source our food locally. Tyler Sailsbery, who owns two restaurants (The Black Sheep and Casual Joes) in Whitewater and has been featured on the Food Network Channel, is doing part of the cooking and was instrumental in creating some signature dishes for the show. The sauce on the smoked pork bowls is from a recipe created by Tyler using Kikkoman's soy sauce," Reedy says. "Kikkoman's is headquartered in Walworth and was one of our first sponsors."
In addition, salads made fresh daily will be available along with cheese curds from Crave Brothers in Waterloo, sausage snack sticks from Lake Geneva Meats, root beer floats featuring root beer from Sprecher's and vanilla ice cream from Cedar Crest, will also be available.
Innovation Square, located in the heart of Tent City, is the size of a football field and will display technologies invented by eight agricultural companies and university faculty. It will also feature a Geneva Lake Historic Walk, complete with Geneva Lake.
There will also be plenty of activities for kids to do each day. Visitors can try out a tractor simulator and check out a wildlife station where they can feel pelts, bones, shells and small wildlife from Wisconsin.
They can learn to fish or participate in a tractor pull on a pedal tractor.
"About 700 kids will be coming from area day care centers during the three-day show," says Rachael Crane, chair of the Family Living Committee. "We will bring them in and teach them about agriculture."
Jim Stowell, Walworth County Wisconsin farm Technology Days Executive chair, says this is the first time Walworth County has hosted the farm show.
"We've never hosted the show before and it's never been this far south in Wisconsin," Stowell says. "We're less than two miles north of the Illinois border."
Volunteers make the show
The Snudden family and some 1,500 Walworth County volunteers have worked countless hours during the past three years to plan every detail of the event, ensuring visitors will see the latest and greatest farm technology Wisconsin agriculture has to offer.
“We have 20 chairs and co-chairs. They are a really diverse group including farmers, agribusiness people, food-service people and bankers, and it has been exciting to watch them learn to work together and grow in their roles,” Reedy says. “They’ve received leadership training provided by County Administrator David Bretl. They’ve done a great job of stepping up to the plate and getting the job done. We’re in great shape and ready for the show. I’m impressed by all the amazing talents and skills that our volunteers have. Their efforts are really appreciated."
Knowing the amount of work necessary to host the show as well as the disruption in everyone’s life, the host family is very much appreciated for stepping up to offer their farm for the show, Reedy adds.
“They want everything to look great and represent Wisconsin and Walworth County agriculture well.” she says. “They’re very sincere and excited to host the show.”
The cost of admission is $6 per person. Parking is free.
“Six dollars gets you in the door which is a pretty amazing education and entertainment value,” Reedy says. Children 12 years old and younger will be admitted free.