By MICHELE F. MIHALJEVICH
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — A revised floor plan will allow visitors to the 2013 Fort Wayne Farm Show to see larger pieces of agricultural equipment, an organizer said. The 24th edition of the show is Jan. 15-17 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
Show organizers have had requests from exhibitors for bigger display areas as equipment such as sprayers and combines has become larger, said Fred Cline, a show director with Tradexpos, which produces the annual trade show. Officials were able to increase display space in the coliseum’s main level by taking out the central aisle in the room.
“We ended up with a 50-foot wide display area, which will be great for the large equipment,” Cline said. “We sent letters to our exhibitors, and the response was phenomenal.”
The show sold out in June 2012, he said, explaining 387 exhibitors will be listed in the show guide. The show has sold out for at least the last 15 years, he noted.
The wider display area will allow exhibitors the opportunity for more sales, Cline said. “We do encourage selling at our shows,” he said. “Orders are taken at the show and a lot of product is sold right there. We’ll also get calls later in the season from a potential customer who will ask about (who occupied) a specific booth, and those exhibitors may end up making sales a few months later.”
Customers have the opportunity to meet with local and factory representatives and local sales officials during the show, he said. The show has a 96 percent retention rate with exhibitors, though organizers like to add new vendors to keep it fresh, he stated.
“There’s a lot of loyalty (from exhibitors) to the show,” he said. “We like to have exhibitors that are tied to agriculture and farming in some way, because many of our visitors come from a great distance away for that.”
Farmers young and old have reasons for attending the show, said Gonzalee Martin, Purdue University extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Allen County.
“Current farmers aren’t just coming to come, but they want to see what’s new,” he explained. “The older and retired farmers still have a love and passion for the industry; they remember ‘when.’ It’s important for them to still have a connection to farming.”
Promotion and location are key reasons the show has grown and remained successful, Martin noted. “There’s really nothing else in this area, and with the show here, people don’t have to go a long way to visit a quality trade show.”
The show is geared toward serious farm families, Cline said. A survey of ZIP codes gathered from various contest entry forms show most visitors come from rural areas, with a small percentage from Fort Wayne, he noted. Last year’s attendance was 30,734. The normal range is 30,000-38,000, he said.
The Fort Wayne Farm Show is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 15, 9 a.m-8 p.m. Jan. 16 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 17. The show is free but there is a fee of $4-$8 to park in coliseum lots.
Tradexpos, based in Austin, Minn., also produces farm shows in Owatonna, Minn., and Wichita and Topeka, Kan. Learn more specifics online at www.trad expos.com/ftwayne