The Farm Days Are Coming
by Amanda Soine
As we transition from what seems like a drawn-out Wisconsin winter, it is time to think about what the spring and summer months have to offer. Besides plenty of sunshine and warmer weather, there are many great festivals and days ahead of us. While July seems like it is a ways away, it is only three calendar months away! So it is time to start planning for the 2013 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.
July 9 through the 11 marks this three-day event this year. This agricultural event has been going on for the last fifty-eight years and is the largest in the state of Wisconsin and even one of the largest in the nation. The three-day outdoor event highlights and features the latest improvements and developments in production agriculture.
Farm Technology Days is organized by representatives of state and federal agencies involved in agriculture and natural resources, the University of Wisconsin, and the agribusiness-industry and farming sectors. The board of directors has seventeen active members who are in charge of many duties from picking scholarship winners to making sure the show is a success each year. Also the Farm Tech Days would not be possible without the 700 to 1,000 people who volunteer each year. This event is always looking for volunteers; more information can be found on the Baron County Farm Tech website.
Each year this event is held in a different Wisconsin county, hosted by a farm family. Farm Technology Days made its debut in 1954 in Waupaca. Since then Farm Tech Days has made its away all around the state of Wisconsin Some of the past sites have included Eau Claire, Chippewa, Fond du Lac, Iowa, and Sheboygan counties. This year the theme is Cultivating the Future. Some past themes have included The Power of Agriculture, Ag Innovations for Future Generations, Golden Land of Corn, and Cheese.
This year the event will be held in Barron County. Farm Tech was first held in Barron County in 1986. This county is rich with agriculture and dairy, with high rankings among the top ten counties in Wisconsin in annual cash farm marketing. Barron County has over 270,00 acres of land, the perfect candidate and location to hold this year’s Farm Technology Days. This is the second time the county will be hosting this event. Times of the events are as followed: Tuesday July 9, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Wednesday July 10, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and the last day Thursday July 11, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. While only the times are listed right now, make sure to check back for updates on when and where certain events will be held.
This year the host family is Breezy Hill Dairy, owned and operated by Alex and Mary Olson. The Olsons’ farm has been around since the 1980s, with Alex taking over full-ownership in 2001. Since then the farm has expanded from 95 cows to 300 and is continuing to thrive. Alex and Mary and their staff of eight are excited to showcase Breezy Hill Dairy and what a beautiful area it is to live and work in, in the upcoming summer months.
Over the past fifty-eight years, Farm Tech Days has had numerous highlights; 1954 was the first successful event, which was only two days long and was named Progress Days. In 1978 for the 25th year, the show returned to Waupaca County. Then in 1980 the show was established to be a two-year rotation: summer (forage), 1 fall (corn and tillage). Only eight years later they decided to add a three-year rotation: 2 summers (forage), 1 fall (corn and tillage). In 2001 the board of directors approved the name change from Wisconsin Farm Progress Days to Wisconsin Farm Technology Days; two years later in 2003 was the first year the new name was used. A fifty-year celebration occurred in Waupaca County in 2003, which was the first county to hold four shows.
Since 1994, county executive committees have selected toy tractors to sell at the event, with the profits going to support the show each year. Only 1,000 tractors are made each year, creating a valuable keepsake for each year. Some of the past tractor models have included: International 1568 (1994, Columbia County), John Deere 40 (1997 Manitowoc County), Sampson M (2001 Rock County), 340 International with Corn Planter (2007 Green County), and for 2013 Farmers Union Coop Model #3. The 2013 model is 1/16 the size scale replica to the original tractor owned by Don Link, which will be on display at this year’s Farm Tech Days.
Wisconsin Farm Technology Days is already planning for the future with Portage County and Dane County being chosen for the 2014 and 2015 celebrations. With Blue Top Farms and Feltz Family Farms Statz Brothers Farms being the host family for the 2015 event. This gives the host families plenty of time to plan to showcase their products—how much goes into making this event such a success! 2016 is still looking for a host family. FTD General Manager Ron Schuler says a county has applied, but some paperwork is still needed.
“We always like to announce the next host county during our meeting, but we just can’t make that confirmation yet,” Schuler told Wisconsin Ag Connection. “I expect that there will be an announcement in a couple of weeks.”
The Wisconsin Farm Technology days is not only about agriculture and cultivating farming technology. Each year they also give out three different scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,000. Qualifications and deadlines are posted on the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days website under Scholarship.
While this may seem like an event all about farm technology, don’t be fooled. There will be plenty of other things going on—farm and non-farm related—for those of all ages. So folks, mark your calendars for July 9 to 11. This is one summer event you do not want to miss out on.