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Commentary: The December Tradition Continues

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By Gary Truitt

Traditions are very important to farm families. The County Fair, the State Fair,  and the December farm show are all traditional trips made by many Hoosier farmers. For the past 39 years, farmers, their sons, and now their grandsons have visited the farm show at the West Pavilion at the State Fairgrounds each December.  Over the years, I have seen the same families come to the show year after year. The tradition is continuing, but some of the long time visitors will notice some changes.

The first thing you will notice when you walk in the door is that you will be asked to register. This will only take a few minutes; and, for your cooperation, you will have the chance to take home a professional drone package. All we will be asking is basic contact information, as well as the kind of things you are interested in so we can improve the show. Don’t worry — we are not going to sell your data.

Once you hit the show floor, you will notice new colors and plenty of new exhibitors, but some of your old friends will be in their same locations. Unlike many other shows, this show is a unique blend of current and cutting-edge technology. There will even be a nod to the innovation of the past with a display of antique tractors.

For the past 12 years, I have had the pleasure of putting together a daily seminar series that focused on some of the top issues of the day. However, this year I had the chance to go hog wild.  There will be three days of almost non-stop programs which cover policy, production, finances, and the future.  In short, there is hardly an issue we are not going to explore. What is different this year is that, not only do we have experts doing the seminars but also many farmers.  Kyle Tom, Ken and Rodney Rulon, Vermillion County farmer Carter Morgan, and others will be talking about their experiences and their operations.

This summer, as we were working on a vision of what this show could be, it occurred to me that most farmers I know are hands-on kind of people. This is something most other indoor farm shows don’t do: have live, hands-on demonstrations right on the show floor. Purdue Extension will show you how to use a drone on your farm and give you an excuse to convince your wife to let you buy one. NRCS will also have their rain simulator on the floor. A skeptic about the benefits of cover crops, this display will make a believer out of you. They will simulate a rain storm and show you how a cover crop helps control moisture.

As a farm journalist, I have attended many seminars; and, at the end, the speakers ask for questions. Typically, the farmers in the audience sit stoically saying nothing. But, as soon as the event is over, they rush the stage to talk one-on-one with the speaker. So, I set up the Coffee Shop, sponsored by Rural King.  This is a place to have one-on-one talks with our seminar speakers as well as with other experts.  There will even be some free coffee and donuts to spark conversation.

So, keep your tradition alive or start a new one and visit the Indiana Farm Equipment and Technology Expo, December 11-13. I look forward to seeing you at the show. If I am not in the seminar area or munching a donut in the coffee shop, then look for me at the big hand tool display, because you can never have to many hand tools.   Keep the tradition alive; come to the farm show.