Oshkosh - The timing of the event and its location are two of the many strengths of the annual WPS Farm Show, according to manager Rob Juneau, who is in his 9th year in that role. This year's show, to be held on Tuesday to Thursday, March 28 to 30, will be the 57th.
The show dates in the last week of March are ideal because winter-like weather conditions are not likely to occur and because the show is held just a few days or weeks before farmers begin to gear up for another cropping year, Juneau indicates.
At the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) grounds, the show is within about two hours driving time on major highways for a majority of the Wisconsin farmers who come to it, Juneau observes. Compared to the previous location in the vicinity of Lambeau Field and the Brown County Arena in Green Bay, the site is also more conveniently accessible for exhibitors to bring in their large equipment and displays, he adds.
Juneau also points out that weather conditions during the show are crucial for the large number of exhibitors who are set up outside on the EAA grounds, where the event has been staged for 15 years. Weather conditions dictate how much time show attendees will spend visiting those exhibitors, he explains.
By mid-March, all of the indoor exhibit space in the four hangars had been allocated, Juneau notes. By that time, there were 506 exhibitors from at least 20 states, three provinces in Canada, and The Netherlands. With a few more additions, he says the exhibitor numbers would be about the same as in recent years.
Juneau finds that 90 to 95 percent of the exhibitors decide to return after having been at the show in the previous year. Because of the show's orientation, exhibitors know that they'll be drawing a crowd from the agricultural sector and the visitors know what kinds of products and services they'll be able to learn about, he notes.
Exhibitors are striving to provide their farmer clients with products and ideas to improve labor efficiency, increase production, and make money, Juneau states. Among the fairly new items to be shown exhibitors this year are an innovative milking unit arrangement and an automatic feed pusher machine for free-stall barns, he reports.
One related activity at the show is the presentation of one or two seminars on each of the three days. Although the meeting room isn't always filled for those sessions, Juneau isn't particularly bothered by that because the topics are often covered in other venues by the Extension Service, the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, other organizations, and private companies which provide services and products to farmers. But any presentation on renewable energy is likely to fill the seminar room, he notes.
Juneau also assures attendees who were caught in a traffic backup two years ago that there was “a drastic improvement” on show entry in 2016. With how the situation was addressed after what happened in 2015, he's confident that the traffic flow will be good again this year. “I'll be keeping an eye on it,” he promises.
One caution, also weather related, that Juneau shares is the parking will be affected depending on whether the grassy areas on the grounds are frozen or not. If the turf is soft, parking will be restricted to the concrete, he notes. If this results in too great a walking distance for attendees, he indicates that a shuttle bus service is available from the parking lot to the Farm Show entrance.
Juneau notes that another important reason for running a well-managed show is the fact that WPS (Wisconsin Public Service) has many of the show's attendees and exhibitors as customers for its main business of supplying electric power and natural gas.
Regarding how the show is conducted, Juneau points out that all exhibitors are invited to complete a survey and that attendees are also welcome to share their input. He can be reached at (866) 920-3276.