When organizers of this year's Farm Technology Days Aug. 12-14 in Portage County held their Media Day 48 days before the show's opening date, the 784 outdoor exhibitor lots had been sold out for six weeks.
In addition, at that point, only 20 booths were left in the Ag Business tent, said Anna Maenner, marketing and commercial exhibitor coordinator for Farm Technology Days Inc.
As statewide coordinator, she works on the exhibitor portion of the show each year, no matter where it is held around the state.
As Media Day approached — which is typically the first time people get a chance to visit the site and see the host farms — Maenner and her team sold 15-20 booths in one week.
The 60-acre Tent City site this year is very square and very flat, she said, which should make setting up the booths and exhibitor sites very easy.
By the time the show opens, Maenner said she expects there will be well over 600 exhibitors at Farm Technology Days, including the educational exhibits and arts and crafts vendors.
Because this year's show overlaps with the Wisconsin State Fair, Anna Maener and her husband Chuck Maenner won't be at the show when it prepares to open.
Chuck will be managing the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association booth at state fair, and Anna will be working with the Wisconsin Winery Association in West Allis.
Their daughter Tiffany Chadwick, who has worked with FTD exhibitors for a number of years, will be on the Stevens Point site when the show opens to get things running smoothly. Her parents will be back at the Stevens Point show when the State Fair closes.
Commercial exhibitors from 28 states and Canadian provinces are expected to be represented as the show, hosted by Feltz Family Farms and Blue Top Farms, gets rolling. It is located just a stone's throw from I-39 with a Wal-Mart and other urban development clearly visible from Tent City.
Anna Maenner said there are 76 first-time exhibitors at this year's show; 43 local businesses from Portage County and the immediate surrounding area will be exhibiting.
"We have three kinds of commercial exhibitors at our shows," Maenner said. "We have the big national companies that come every year. Then we have regional companies that will decide whether or not to come based on where the show is being held – north or south."
The third category of exhibitors includes those that are more local and they "tend to get on the train later." Because they don't exhibit every year, they aren't as aware of how the show works or when it's held, but they want to come to support their local area and region.
"They find out about it and figure 'this is a big deal. We should be there,'" she added.
Looking at the way this year's show has shaped up, Maenner sees an economy that's improving over recent years. There will be 23 banks, insurance companies and investment groups exhibiting at the show.
One of the newest things at this year's show will be a drone demonstration in the Ride and Drive area of the show. "I'm not quite sure of the application for agriculture, but people can come and see the drones and take a look for themselves and see that in action."
The other thing that's new for this show is a cellphone application to help attendees find what they're looking for at the show.
"It's designed to be highly searchable; so for instance, if a person is looking for something like solar panels, they can put that in and it will help them find anyone who's exhibiting related to that search," she said.
Maenner said the app will also help attendees search for experts who will be at the show to help answer certain questions.
Major exhibitors at the show include Deere and Company, New Holland Agriculture, Swiderski Equipment, Inc., Traeder Enterprises, Inc., H&S Manufacturing Co. Inc., Meyer Manufacturing Corporation, Case IH, Kuhn North America, Inc., Manitou Americas, Inc., Ram Commercial, Landoll Corporation, AGCO Corporation and Foxland Harvestore Inc.
Other major exhibitors include Scaffidi Motors, Claas of America, Kubota Tractor Corporation, Miller St. Nazianz Inc., NAPA Auto & Truck Parts, Wisconsin Ford Dealers, Marshfield Clinic, Morton Buildings Inc., Patz Corporation, FABCO Equipment Inc., Unverferth Mfg. Co. Inc., Edney Distributing Co. Inc., Featherlite Trailers, Notch Manufacturing Inc. and Walters Buildings.
Seed exhibitors include AgriGold Hybrids, AgVentrue Spangler, Byron Seeds LLC, Dahlman Seed Company LLP, Dairyland Seed, DuPont Pioneer, FS, General Farm Supply Inc., Great Lakes Hybrids, Jay-Mar Inc., Jung Seed Genetics, Kussmaul Seed Company, Legacy Seeds Inc., Legend Seeds Inc., Lemke Seed Farms Inc., NuTech Seed, O'Brien Hybrids, Partners in Production LLC, Renk Seed Co., Tracy Seeds LLC, Wilbur Ellis Company and local Stine Seed Co.
Tractor exhibitors include AGCO Corporation, Brooks Tractor Inc., Buhler Versatile, Case IH, Central Tractor Sales LLC, Deere & Company, Fairchild JCB, Kubota Tractor Corporation, New Holland Agriculture, Swiderski Equipment Inc. and YES JCB, plus many other tractor parts and accessories suppliers, Maenner said.