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Michigan State University hosts the annual Ag Expo
By SHELLY STRAUTZ-SPRINGBORN
Michigan Correspondent

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Ag Expo, Michigan’s largest farm show, is back for its 27th year with traditional farm displays and activities as well as special attractions for the whole family.

From traditional farm implement displays and demonstrations to utility vehicle ride-and-drives, accident response training and cooking demonstrations, the 27th annual Ag Expo will offer something for everyone July 18-20 at Michigan State University (MSU).

The Expo, sponsored by MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will feature more than 250 exhibitors, including equipment, seed, fertilizer, building and service suppliers. Visitors will see tractors, implements, trailers and other equipment with the opportunity to talk with representatives from manufacturers, dealers and agencies.

In addition, Expo participants will have a chance to test their skills during the skid steer ride-and-drive and utility vehicle ride-and-drive throughout the three-day event.

Returning for the second year, the utility vehicle ride-and-drive will be a daily attraction. One participant will win an $8,000 cash voucher towards his or her favorite participating utility vehicle.

Because of liability issues, participants must be at least 18 years of age to test equipment.

The event also will feature a number of educational exhibits from MSU colleges and departments.

“This year’s Ag Expo will offer visitors the opportunity to see new equipment and demonstrations, and we’ve brought back the popular toy tractor show along with a tractor pull event,” said Ag Expo Director Kirk Heinze.

To kick off the festivities, the annual Ag Expo breakfast is set for 7 a.m., July 18.

To raise money for the Michigan FFA Foundation a set of collectible tractors will be sold at the end of the breakfast.

On the auction block will be a complete set of Michigan FFA toy tractor models from 1993 through 2005, as well as a prototype of the 2006 Michigan FFA model tractor, a John Deere 7420.

The FFA Tractor Driving Contest is one of the first items on the agenda at Ag Expo. Starting at 9 a.m. July 18, Michigan FFA members will test their tractor driving skills and safety knowledge during the contest.

Participants will take a written quiz on tractor maintenance and then demonstrate their knowledge of safe driving skills. The participants will have to back a trailer or wagon through a course marked by posts with golf balls on top.

Junior members, those in grades 9-10, will compete using a two-wheeled trailer. Senior members – high school juniors or seniors – will use a four-wheeled wagon.

“Doing this is harder than it looks,” said Michigan FFA Project Consultant Dave Wyrick. “The event is an attempt to teach students about safety when working with trailers and other machinery.”

Other opening-day attractions will include forestry presentations, lawn care and livestock handling demonstrations, meet the Michigan Apple Queen, seminars on Improving and Maintaining Your Pond or Lake and Fish Stocking Strategies for Your Pond or Lake both by Harrietta Hills Trout Farm, zero-turn mower demonstrations and more.

Back by popular demand, the antique garden and tractor pull is slated to begin at 10 a.m., July 19 at the west end of the showgrounds.

“The event moves along real well,” said Warren Townsend, coordinator of the tractor pull. “It’s a good time and a lot of fun.”

This year’s pull will again be organized by the Leslie Tractor Club.

“Last year in the first hour, we drew 2,000 spectators. We expect to have even more pullers this year,” Heinze said.

“Attendees will see all types of tractors pull, from those fresh off the farm to ones with extreme modifications,” Townsend said. “Last year, we had a steam engine hook to the sled for exhibition.

“There will also be garden tractors pulling, with a class to fit almost any size of riding mower from smaller lawn mowers without the mower deck to garden tractors with VW engines and motorcycle engines on them,” Townsend said.

Some of the other activities for the day will include First on the Scene accident response training, a forestry demonstration, seatbelt safety, on-farm bulk liquid fertilizer storage, small farm composting and more.

A small farm composting seminar is scheduled everyday during Ag Expo.

Participants will learn the essentials of building compost piles using horse manure and bedding during the demonstrations at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily.

The session is aimed at helping small farmers – owner of a few horses, sheep, goats, cattle, hogs, poultry or other animals – learn simple ways to compost as a way to manage their manure.

MSU Extension Equine and Manure Management Team members will demonstrate bin composting, active aeration and passive aeration windrow composting methods. They also will demonstrate the use of small-farm equipment including tractors and manure spreaders in manure management.

The final day of Ag Expo will feature repeats of some seminars as well as a demonstration on home canning, a seminar on Home poison control: Deadly look-alikes and more.

Ag Expo will feature commercial and farm equipment from throughout the Midwest and several Canadian provinces on the 35-acre main site and 40-acre field demonstration area during the three-day show.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., July 18; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., July 19; and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., July 20 at corner of Farm Lane and Mount Hope Road on Michigan State University’s (MSU) East Lansing campus. Admission is free. Call 1-800-366-7055 or visit www.agexpo.msu.edu for more details.

This farm news was published in the July 5, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

7/5/2006