Farm Technology Days are back!
Perfect – but warm – weather and hundreds of vendors welcomed the first attendees to walk through the doors of Farm Technology Days at Huntsinger Farms in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the first since 2019.
After last year’s show was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns, this year the show was set to return with the latest field technology, equine demonstrations, panel discussions, youth competitions and even more. In addition, spectators ate kids, burgers and the “Big Rygg”, a monster burger with bacon, pulled pork, beef, chicken and cheese topped with horseradish sauce that graced the host family. , the Ryggs.
The opening ceremonies on Tuesday, July 20 included appearances by Governor Tony Evers, DATCP Secretary Randy Romanski, 72nd Alice in Dairyland Julia Nunes, State Senator Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) and representatives of State Warren Petryk (R-Eau Claire), Jesse James (R-Altoona) and Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire). The chairman of the event’s executive committee, Mike Gintner, also spoke.
Governor Evers awarded Gintner a state proclamation on the importance of Agricultural Technology Days.
“We’re really, really excited that Farm Tech Days are back. It’s a major and important exercise for all of us in the state to make it happen,” Evers said. “It takes a lot of work, but a lot of good people, and every hour you put in will pay off. I continue to stand up for agriculture in the state of Wisconsin.”
“Every summer we look forward to these three days where we go to a farm, walk the fields, stand with some of the exhibitors, and see, feel and touch the agriculture that is happening all around us right here in the state of Wisconsin, ”Romanski said. “And this event here at this place was done so well. You have everything to see here.”
Senator Smith awarded Eric Rygg and his family – wife Brittany, brother Ryan and children Aria, Evan and Sabrina – a plaque of recognition from his mother, Nancy Bartusch, who ran Huntsinger Farms as CEO from 1972 to 2018 , date on which Eric took over. . Bartusch is still the CEO and co-owner, but has since stepped back to allow Eric and his family to become the primary owner and operator.
“Over the years, it goes back to the Rygg family of the Huntsinger farm, and it continues here. We are really delighted that you are here,” said Smith. “Members of the Wisconsin Senate, on motion of Senator Jeff Smith, recognize Nancy Bartusch for her work and dedication to agriculture at Eau Claire.”
Guided tours of the farm took guests to see the operation of Huntsinger Farms, as well as Nellie’s Holsteins and Ferguson’s Orchards, two of this year’s flagship businesses in the Eau Claire region. Virtual tours were also available for those who could not attend the tours in person.
Tuesday’s equine zone offered many different activities, including roping and barrel racing, therapeutic horseback riding and, of particular interest, the horse-drawn shooting demonstration. Several riders ranging from beginner to senior level put on a show for the crowd by shooting red and blue balloons with revolvers. Sport is often a family affair, with several husband-wife pairs competing for the best time and accuracy.
Many regular vendors and demonstrators were happy to get back to normal at this year’s Farm Technology Days. Jeff Piessig, owner of dairy supply company Advanced Dairy in Spring Valley, Wisconsin, had exhibited robotic milking equipment that would allow a cow to enter, clean her teats, milk her, clean again her teats and let her come out in no matter of a few minutes. All kinds of information is also displayed on a built-in monitor, like the pounds of milk produced, and even includes images of the cow’s udders for monitoring.
“So far I’m very happy. It’s a hot day, but our visitors have been very stable,” said Piessig. “We have a robotic screen here, so a lot of people look at robotic technology, stop, and come out of the sun a bit into the shade.”
Piessig said that despite not having a show last year, being a supplier and advertising your business at Farm Technology Days is well worth the upfront costs as it gets great results later on. He also said that hosting the event at a horseradish farm, especially the largest in the United States, makes things even more interesting than usual for him as a man in the dairy industry. .
“I think it’s an agricultural show, and dairy is just one part of farming.… I think it’s good that we are highlighting different types of farms,” said Piessig. “The guys from the dairy industry will come and look at different things here, while also getting to know other things that are out there, all different technologies. Every booth has something different.”
Attendees George and Karen Spiers said it was the first show they had attended since the 2005 show, hosted by the Malm family in Clark County, and they were happy they chose this one for it. to go. The couple raise two bee colonies, collecting and distributing their honey, as well as a few hectares of trees on a hobby farm in the Eau Claire region.
“It’s my first time in 15 years or something, so it’s just huge. And the weather isn’t that bad,” said George Spiers.
“Lots of interesting things for all kinds of people,” said Karen Spiers. “You don’t have to be a farmer to find things you love to watch and learn.”
Although exact numbers are not available, Executive Committee Chairman Mike Gintner said he estimated attendance at 40,000 or more between Tuesday and Thursday, although he added that it was ‘a conservative estimate – with the absence of a show in 2020 and the good weather, he said it could be closer to 50,000. He said he was happy with this year’s attendance, especially that the attendance figures for the Jefferson County lounge in 2019 were “disappointing.”
One thing the show was missing in 2021 were the usual Canadian suppliers, Gintner said. Due to issues at the Canada-U.S. Border with COVID-19, Canadians are still not allowed to enter the United States in most cases. However, some other vendors have also had to cancel due to labor or equipment shortages, which become increasingly difficult throughout the summer, Gintner said.
“It’s not something that they can control or that we can control, it’s just a fact of what we experience in the world today,” Gintner said. “I don’t blame them. If you don’t have anything to present, just sit in a booth and show a piece of paper.”
Gintner said it was a huge relief to finally host the show successfully compared to where the executive committee was a year ago. He also said the cancellation provided opportunities to expand and improve the show, adding that they had access to better musical performances, expanded the Innovation Square and ended up hosting the driving competition of statewide FFA tractors rather than a regional competition.
“In March, when we had to make the decision to postpone it, for the most part all the committees had probably done about 80% of what they needed to do. It was only the final performance just before the show. Gintner said. “A lot of the groundwork was done. But we also got to look at some parts of the show and try to improve it and make it better.”