The DakotaDome was crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with people, booths and equipment last week when it was the site of the 29th annual Dakota Farm Show.
From Jan. 4-6 the show played host to approximately 300 vendors from 14 states and Canada, and between 22,000-24,000 visitors for all three days.
"We've had great attendance, and today has started off really well," show manager Penny Swank said Friday. "It's very steady. With this show, we pretty much get people right away in the morning, and they last all through the day, all three days."
Organized by Midwest Shows, Inc., for all 29 years, the show hosted booths and exhibits on the floor of the DakotaDome, in the arena west and in the lobby.
"We've grown a little bit," Swank said. "We've actually run out of space to grow anymore. It's the same size, but we do have a little bit of a turnover. Companies drop out, so we do get newer companies in."
The DakotaDome has never had an issue with finding people to come see what those new companies have to offer.
"A lot of it is, they all want to get up on the new technology that's going on, and (find) better ways to save money with how they're doing things," Swank said.
Isaac Randall, agronomist with Valley Ag Supply of Gayville, added, "They're curious as to what next year will be like, curious if we have any new products to offer. …
"It's fun to meet customers and meet other vendors and see what the scuttlebutt is in the ag industry," he said.
Frank Charipar, who farms about 30 miles southeast of Norfolk, NE, said while he doesn't come to look for anything specific, "there are always different things you find that you could use."
One of the big topics of conversation was the high market prices for corn and cattle.
"That's just great," Charipar said. "You're always concerned about the livestock people, that the (prices) don't get too wicked for them. It's amazing. I never thought I'd live long enough to see corn go over $5, and look where we're at."
The weather has played a large role in this area, said Rebecca Wellenstein, insurance specialist with Farm Credit Services of America.
"With the drought in Argentina, that's really made a difference in our market," she said. "But that market's volatile, so wait until tomorrow and it'll be different."
Although South Dakota winters usually are volatile weather-wise, up to the time of the show it had taken place, this one was reasonably warm – and dry.
"There's a lot of concern on the weather, just the fact that we haven't had any precip," Wellenstein said. "That's a big thing on people's minds."
Steve Welch, a field rep with Yankton Livestock Market, agreed.
"I live over in Iowa, and south of me the other day there was a guy out disking," he said.
"We've got a guy out in Akron who cuts all the ditches – he's still cutting ditches and baling hay."
Charipar said the lack of precipitation is a cause for concern, but he tries to keep it in perspective.
"This actually is a low-cost winter compared to having to move snow all the time," he said. "And now with $3.50 fuel, every time you fill that tractor fuel tank you really spend some bucks."
For more information, visit http://www.farmshowsusa.com/Mains/DMain1.htm.