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OSHKOSH - Spring is in the air and farmers are eager to lay aside the winter doldrums and check out what's new at the 58th annual Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) Farm Show. The three-day event will be held on Tuesday through Thursday, March 27-29 at the EAA grounds in Oshkosh.

WPS spokesperson Matthew Cullen said the WPS Farm Show is one of the company’s signature events each year, providing farmers with the opportunity to “grow new ideas”.

"Our goal each year is to provide a show that helps our agricultural customers operate their farms as efficiently as possible," Cullen said. "It also allows us to connect with farmers in our service area, inform them about using electricity safely and discussing ways to help them manage their energy use and costs."

Crop farmer Allen Bischoff says he circles the show dates on his calendar back in January, adding that attendance at the show has become a tradition for his family and employees.

"We enjoy coming each year because we're able to connect with the vendors and ask questions about our equipment needs, whether its a new manure spreader or a feed additive we were thinking of trying," Bischoff said. "The show is mostly indoors so we don't have to worry about the weather either. And we like the fact that it's within driving distance for us."

Since adding another mammoth tent in 2016, Cullen said they're able to accommodate more than 500 exhibitors.

"This year more than 500 exhibitors from 21 state and three countries will be taking part in this year's show," Cullen said. "Our show serves as an informal summit that helps bring farmers and agribusinesses together to discuss products and equipment that will ultimately help them operate their farms as efficiently as possible."

The three-day event is expected to draw 20,000 visitors. According to the Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau, the WPS Farm Show brought in an estimated $1.2 million to the Oshkosh-area economy in 2017.

Timing and location

The show is also popular among farmers as it happens to fall during the lull between winter and spring fieldwork.

"The thought behind scheduling the show this way is that it allows farmers to see all the new products, equipment and services prior to the start of spring planting season," Cullen said.

Those traveling to the show appreciate the location just off Interstate 41, and the ease of entering the EAA grounds. The site is also more conveniently accessible to vendors hauling in large equipment and displays.

Cullen said show organizers made the decision to relocate the show in 2003 after a 41-year run at the Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena in Green Bay.

"When the show started in 1961, it had just 25 exhibitors and was known as the Farm Materials Handling Exposition," he said. "Over the years the farm show changed and we simply outgrew the space in Green Bay."

While 90 percent of the vendors return year after year, Cullen says there will be more new faces on the grounds this year with 40 exhibitors making a first time appearance at the show.

Visitors can expect to see the latest and greatest in farm machinery and technology occupying 444,000 square feet of space on the grounds, including robotic milking equipment, irrigation systems, land scrapers, security cameras, livestock feed mixers and precision planting technology.

Returning exhibitors will feature computerized data collection and management applications, crop production advancements, and products that can help farmers continue to manage low farm commodity prices.

"When I visited the show as a teenager with my dad, it was pretty much standard farm equipment and seed and feed dealers," Bischoff said. "My dad would be amazed by the technological advancements that have been made in agriculture since the 60s. Everything is state-of-the-art technology."

Educational opportunities

WPS agricultural consultants will also be staffing a booth throughout the Farm Show to discuss energy needs with farmers, answer questions and demonstrate a state-of-the-art farm wiring system.

Farmers and other producers aren't the only ones that will be taking in all the sights and sounds inside the massive hangars and tents. Many parents make attending the show a 'family day', including Marla Nelson from the greater Green Bay area.

"We've taken the kids to this show since they were babies. What better way to introduce them to agriculture than at this show that encompasses all facets of the industry?" she said.

Cullen says it's encouraging to see parents who value the show as an educational experience for their children.

"That's something that we're definitely proud of . We're glad to provide a show that has things that help give kids and students an opportunity to learn more about the ag industry," he said.

Seminars

The show also features educational seminars during its three-day run. Seminars will be held in the meeting room inside Hangar A.

March 27, 11 a.m. — "Why sauerkraut juice is great for cows", a free product being introduced by GLK Foods, Bear Creek. Presenter: Dieter Harle, president Best Options, Inc..

March 28, 11 a.m. — "Futures and options made simple". Presenter: Jordan Hamm, advisor for Market360.

1 p.m.  — "Cleaning Wisconsin groundwater, applying manure". Presenter: Jim Martindale, TNT Farming Solutions LLC

March 29, 11 a.m. —  "Concern around GMO and the use of glyphosate". Presenter: Dieter Harle, President Best Options, Inc.

Parking, pedal pulls and more

A big draw for kids attending the show is the Kids' tractor pull which will begin at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 28. Youngsters will compete for prizes in 14 weight categories.

A food tent featuring several state nonprofit groups selling products such as bison, pork, beef, potatoes, cheese and vegetables, all of which are grown, raised or produced in Wisconsin.

Blood pressure screenings, along with information about blood sugar and cholesterol testing, provided by University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh nursing students (March 27 and March 29 only).

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Future Farmers of America will again hold a silent auction (located throughout the show in Hangar B). Proceeds from the show will benefit the WI FFA Foundation. FFA members from six Wisconsin FFA chapters will be on hand throughout the show manning information booths inside the hangars.

Free motorized scooters, manual wheelchairs and wagons will be made available for attendees who need mobility assistance.

The WPS Farm Show runs March 27 and 28, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and March 29, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission to the show is free, but there is a $3 charge for parking on the EAA grounds. Cullen said visitors should access the EAA grounds via Waukau Avenue.

More details on the WPS Farm Show can be found at wpsfarmshow.com.

Wisconsin Public Service Corporation is a utility subsidiary of WEC Energy Group Inc. (NYSE: WEC). The utility serves approximately 442,000 electric customers and 326,000 natural gas customers in northeastern and north central Wisconsin.  Visit wisconsinpublicservice.com and WEC Energy Group, at wecenergygroup.com.

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