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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • Under new ownership, Farmfest to ride success

  • With Farmfest 2013 now concluded, the plans for the 2014 show, which is being held Aug. 5-7, are already under way; those plans are going to include a new element, as the American Farm Bureau Federation has officially become the owner of the annual show as part of a series of farm shows held across the United States in now owns.
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  • With Farmfest 2013 now concluded, the plans for the 2014 show, which is being held Aug. 5-7, are already under way.
    Those plans are going to include a new element, as the American Farm Bureau Federation has officially become the owner of the annual show as part of a series of farm shows held across the United States in now owns.
    The Farm Bureau purchased the shows, along with some ag-related periodicals because, as Dan Durheim, American Farm Bureau Federation director of industrial affairs said, they have consistently demonstrated success.
    Farmfest is among those success stories, as was evidenced again this year.
    “The last two days were great,” said Ray Bianchi, group show director thursday afternoon. “During those two days we had more people in attendance than we did all of last year.”
    Farm Bureau purchased the farm shows from Cygnus Expositions, which is part of an investment group that put the event portion of its company up for sale, and the top bid came from Farm Bureau.
    “This is something that has been in the works for months,” said Kevin Paap, Minnesota Farm Bureau president, adding from the Farm Bureau perspective purchasing farm-related shows makes sense.
    “This is a good fit for us,” said Paap. “It is a natural marriage, and we are very excited about it.”
    Durheim said the idea actually started during the throes of a discussion Farm Bureau leadership was having about adding new pieces that would help to create even greater viability for the farm organization and its members.
    Among the ideas Durheim checked into was the purchase of the farm shows, as he had seen it listed as being for sale.
    “We did a lot of investigation and put in our bid,” said Durheim, adding after the bid was accepted the work of bringing the two entities together began.
    While the farm shows, which also include shows in Illinois, South Dakota and Texas may experience a few tweaks, Durheim said the farm shows as a group are going to continue to be the events they have been.
    “We don’t want to try to fix what isn’t broken,” said Paap.
    Investments in the future of the farm show at the Gilfillan Estate went on this year in spite of the fact that Farmfest was in transition. One of those upgrades was the Wick Building Farmfest Center which replaced the main forum tent on the grounds.
    According to Bianchi, the building was very well received, and he gave credit to Marshall Brown and Wayne Koenig of Cygnus for their efforts in making that building possible.
    Bianchi said he would like to see more buildings like that on the site in the future.
    Page 2 of 2 - Bianchi also said it is his hope to increase the use of the Farmfest grounds, and there is currently a plan in place to offer a pre-plantling event this spring.
    While the details of that event are not yet complete, Bianchi said it could involve a variety of things, including some training.
    “We have been working with Julie Rath to develop that event,” said Bianchi.
    Bianchi expressed his excitement in having Farm Bureau as the new owner of Farmfest and the other farm shows.
    The farm shows were the most profitable elements of its event business, said Bianchi.
    Durheim said the branding of the farm show events has been very successful, and he said that is not going to change.
    Creating synergy between the two entities – Farm Bureau and a newly formed limited liability company (LLC) – means putting the best of both together to create something that is even better than what is being offered for attendees today.
    Durheim, Bianchi and Paap all recognized there are some who have been part of these farm shows who do not hold the same philosophy as Farm Bureau.
    In the end, said Paap, its all about doing what is best for agriculture, adding the message Farm Bureau wants to offer is it is willing to work with anyone and everyone in the future.
    Durheim, whose role with Farm Bureau includes helping to coordinate the farm shows element, also expressed his excitement about the addition.
    “This is not going to be a political platform for us,” Durheim said, adding in the end developing a program that gets the best information in front of farmers is what everyone should want.
    Durheim called the addition of the farm shows and periodicals a good investment for Farm Bureau, as they have demonstrated profitability.
    So, it is business as usual for Farmfest for the immediate future, and the staff, including Bianchi, has been retained moving forward.
    Added updates regarding the transition are going to be shared as they are made avaliable.
    Stay tuned.

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