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Barron County hosts set for FTD show

June 6, 2013 | 0 comments


Alex and Mary Olson and 1,250 of their closest friends in Barron County are counting down to July 9-11 when they will host Farm Technology Days, the state’s largest outdoor farm show.

The Olsons showcased their Breezy Hill Dairy last week for members of the media in preparation for the big show in July.

Their state-of-the-art farm includes new facilities for manure storage and handling and for leachate management near their feed storage bunkers. A tram ride provided views of these new additions to the farm and to the scenery that the Olsons enjoy every day.

Tent City will soon rise on the rolling land located to the north of the dairy facilities and the south of their heifer barns on the adjacent farm.

One of the reasons the Olsons wanted to host the big farm event was to thank their friends and neighbors for all the help they provided when the Olsons had a barn fire. Their cows were milked in neighbors’ barns for months while new facilities were built.

They just wanted to do what they could to give back to all the people who helped them. "People think our job is hard," says Alex, "but it isn’t. We are having a great time."

That spirit is one of the things that the show’s executive secretary Tim Jergenson, with Barron County UW-Extension, has watched build in his volunteers.

"It has really been fascinating to watch the whole process. The pace has picked up dramatically and it wasn’t leisurely before by any means, but you can feel the excitement building. The energy is out there among the volunteers," he said.

There are 1,250 volunteers already on the roster and the number is growing each day, he said. All the committees feel they have the people they will need to put on the show, except perhaps the parking committee where volunteers are still showing up.

"We’ve had no glitches yet and we fully expect to get at least one."

Weather is often a concern going into the outdoor farm show, but usually snow isn’t a factor. This year there most likely won’t be snow on the show grounds during Farm Technology Days but it has affected the host farm.

On May 2 the area received 15 inches of show, putting the alfalfa crop back a bit where the show and field demonstrations will be held.

"We have an incredible farm site. The soils are such at that farm that it dried up nicely. Their sandy loam is the best spot anywhere," he said.

Barron County has lined up to help out with this show. "We had five really good applicants to host this show; really quality farms. I would have been confident to take Farm Technology Days forward with any of them."

At Breezy Hill, a farm with a view that goes on for miles, the crop rotations and field demonstrations are all lined up. The first cutting of hay should be off June 5 or 6 so Tent City can be staked out June 8.

Then all the work of planning will start to play out. "Behind the scenes there will be some things that won’t be obvious to people coming to the show. We will have a robust internet system. I like to say we will have the only alfalfa field in Wisconsin that is fully wired for the internet.

"We’re hoping that exhibitors will incorporate that into their displays and infrastructure of their exhibits."

Visitors will be able to see bale busters compared side-by-side, with video cameras showing what’s going on inside and field sprayer demonstrations.

Barron County previously hosted the show – then called Farm Progress Days – in 1987 near Cumberland. Jergenson was dairy farming then and remembers going to the show and looking at haying equipment. "I took some ideas home and switched corn hybrids."

He’s hoping the state’s farmers will come to this year’s show and take home ideas on farm technology, too.

"I’ve been told that farmers especially like Farm Technology Days because they can see seven or eight things they are interested in and compare them all at once. It’s all in one place and they can save time and have the information they need when they go home."

Come July, Barron County will be the place to do all that.

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