If I mentioned how many years I have attended the Farm Science Review, I would sound older than I like to think I appear. Maybe we can all agree that I was very young when I walked around Don Scott Field and survived the perils of Porta-Potties. In any case, after considerable experience at the show, I have developed strategies that may help you manage your time there.
To begin with, plan your arrival to avoid the incoming traffic jam that normally peaks between 9 and 10 a.m. The gates open at 8, so try to finish chores at home early and get on the road. Of course, making off-farm plans of any kind tends to increase the likelihood of morning chore complications, such as clogged feed augers, leaking water lines or rampaging livestock. That is probably why everyone who planned to arrive at 8 or 8:30 is backed up on Route 40 between 9 and 10.
Once on the grounds and parked, it’s critical to take note of the parking location. As you head to the exhibit area, travel light to keep your hands free and avoid fatigue. For instance, instead of the bulky notebook I usually carry, I grab a couple of pocket notepads. And instead of carrying around all 27 keys on my keychain, I unclip the truck key, and leave the rest in the console.
Look for Gate C
As you approach the showgrounds from the east parking lot, make note of the location of the permanent restroom near Gate C. Unless you enjoy the novelty of the Porta-Potti experience, you will want to plan your route around the show to pass this location at strategic times during the day. A second running-water restroom is located at the intersection of Dairy Street and Friday Avenue, but it tends to get crowded, especially around lunchtime. I have no experience with the men’s rooms, but be aware that the western women’s room should be entered only from the Friday Avenue door on the south. Entering the ladies room from the north-facing door may not be prohibited, but you are likely to face the wrath of the waiting women from the south. From what I’ve seen, women can enter from the north without objection only if they are herding several adorable children wearing overalls.
The show is so large now that covering the whole thing in one day is difficult, but it is possible if you
walk briskly and wear sunglasses to avoid any eye contact that might lead to casual conversation. On the other hand, FSR is the state’s biggest farmer reunion, so unless you have an urgent need for a farm show bargain, try an ambling pace so you can identify and catch up with old friends. Do not, however, amble within the golf cart lanes.
Where’s our car?
Despite your best intentions, at the end of the day you may realize you don’t know where you parked. At this point, your best option is to amble around for another hour or so. By then, the parking lot will have cleared out so you can spot your vehicle in a location you don’t remember.
Finally, after all that ambling, pull out the truck key you tucked in your pocket at the beginning of the day. If you notice it is not the key for the truck you drove, try it anyway. This will give you time to assess your situation and realize everyone you know has gone home. Your best option will be to walk back toward the entrance where the golf carts are rented. You may not feel like ambling, so trudging is acceptable. With any luck, the golf cart lady will offer to drive you to the sheriff’s headquarters. With any more luck, you will happen upon the show manager and the grounds superintendent, who will personally escort you to the vehicle service truck stationed on the grounds. Do not be embarrassed. This has happened before.
But I’m hoping it doesn’t happen again.
Keck writes from Raymond.