The Farm Progress Hay Expo marks its 25th birthday this year. The event was developed in 1986 to fill a void in the marketplace and satisfy a need for a trade show strictly focused on forages. The idea of a specialized show dedicated to the forage industry had been contemplated for several years at Farm Progress Companies Inc.
How it started
"The original idea for a hay show evolved from editorial and advertising staff meetings that followed several Farm Progress Shows. The central idea was to develop a way to fill a need for hay equipment companies to show their equipment in operation," says Monte Sesker, editor of Wallaces Farmer in 1986.
"We realized September was the wrong time of year for hay equipment manufacturers to demonstrate their equipment. We contacted individual companies and they were generally enthusiastic about a separate show for hay equipment. So we decided to launch the Farm Progress Hay Expo."
The first Hay Expo was held July 2 near Alleman, Iowa, on the Twedt, Holland, Stahl and Cory farms. These farms were also the hosted the 1986 Farm Progress Show in September.
Fields surrounding the Farm Progress Show exhibit site were planted to alfalfa and other forages to park cars during the fall event. These fields became the ideal place for the first Hay Expo. The exhibit site had plenty of demonstration acres, flat fields and easy access to major highways. Plus, the central Iowa location made it easy to partner with Iowa State University for an educational component to the show.
Longtime, loyal exhibitors
Several companies exhibiting at the first show continue to exhibit today, including: Asgrow Seed (Monsanto Co.); Dairyland Seed; Deutz-Allis, Hesston, and Massey Ferguson (Agco Corp.); Fontanelle Hybrids; Garst Seed, AgriPro, Stauffer Seeds, and Northrup King (Syngenta); Growmark; Kelly Ryan; New Holland (CNH Global); Pioneer Hi-Bred (DuPont); and Vermeer.
Like today, the initial Hay Expo showcased forage related-companies with displays 1n the exhibit area and equipment working in the field demonstrations. Early hay demonstrations focused on mowers, tedders, hay rakes and balers. As forage equipment developed and became more specialized, chopping and merging demonstrations were added to the list of demos offered during the event.
The evolving show
The Hay Expo has grown and adapted over the last 25 years and the objective to showcase forage companies and their equipment, products and technology has remained. After the success of the first hay show, future shows rotated among many locations in Iowa and Wisconsin. This year marks the first time the event will be held in Minnesota (June 8 and 9 near Cannon Falls).
With a new location every year, event organizers have the opportunity to work with many different farm families as hosts. This means many meetings, phone calls and pre-show planning to make sure everything goes according to plan.
"It has been a pleasure to be a part of the Hay Expo over the years," notes Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress national shows manager. "The friendships with the host farmers are my favorite part. The families who opened their farms to allow us to put on the event are an important piece of the history of this unique show."
Don't miss this year's show
The 2011 Farm Progress Hay Expo will be held June 8 and 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The show site is located off of Highway 52 at the intersection of Goodhue County 9 and Goodhue County 1, south of Cannon Falls, Minn. at farms of Hernke's Inc. Admission is free; parking is $10 per vehicle. Detailed directions and GPS coordinates for the show site are available at www.HayExpo.com. The public is welcome.
For a schedule of events and more information, visit www.HayExpo.com or call 866-264-7469.