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Big Iron marking 30 years Annual farm expo continues to thrive

Thirty years old and bigger and better than ever, Big Iron 2010, the Midwest's largest agricultural expo, is set for its annual three-day run Tuesday, Sept. 14, through Thursday, Sept. 16, at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo, located on the city's west edge with direct access off of Interstate 94. Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

Annually, the show brings together more than 800 agricultural exhibits and approximately 70,000 people intent on advancing agriculture by sharing the latest in farm equipment and technology in both indoor and outdoor display areas on approximately 200 acres of convenient viewing space.

Big Iron General Manager Bryan Schulz and Events Coordinator Chaun Merkens have been overseeing efforts to make the 30th anniversary milestone event a highly memorable one for both exhibitors and those attending.

On that note, in addition to the regular exhibits, an additional 70 new indoor booth spaces are located in the livestock building, which is just south of Schollander Pavilion and the Arena. Also in that area is the production livestock display building featuring livestock equipment demonstrations, live exhibits and seminars.

Once again, the show is completely sold out and Merkens is reveling in the interest, noting there is even an Australian exhibitor on board this year from Raycol Engineering, who saw the expo as his perfect opportunity to preview his product to the area and hopefully recruit a dealer to distribute it locally.

All in all, Merkens said it is stacking up "to be a great year. We are sold out. I have been turning away potential exhibitors for a couple of weeks already. Every nook and cranny that will hold a booth has a booth in it. It's full, it's fun and it's coming quickly."

Schulz agrees, and maintains the same high excitement level. "Big Iron has a huge impact on the West Fargo, Fargo, and Moorhead area with all the visitors that come in and what they bring to the show. We've formed some great alliances with all the organizations out there. We also have a fantastic staff. Chaun does a great job, and without the help of everybody else it wouldn't be possible. Thirty years and still growing is a great testament to the type of product we show."

A Visitor Appreciation Pancake Breakfast will open activities on Tuesday morning from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the third building west of the Livestock Production Building. Sponsored by the Farm and Ranch Guide, admission charge will be a non-perishable food item or a freewill offering with proceeds donated to a charitable food pantry.

Another new feature at this year's 30th Big Iron will be the special demonstration showcased south of the grandstand. Each year a different one is presented, with the 2010 highlight the One Pass Air Seeder Demonstration which will be held at 2:30 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, south of the Red River Valley Speedway racetrack. The event is sponsored by the Farm & Ranch Guide and coordinated by the NDSU Extension department.

In addition to the wide variety of booths and displays, varying field demonstrations will be featured each day from 1 to 3 p.m. on the areas south of the Red River Valley Speedway track, with transportation provided to and from the area free of charge. There will also be demonstrations conducted on the grounds throughout the show by various vendors.

The Issues and Events Center will also be bringing in prominent state figures for discussions and marketing seminars. A related adjacent story outlines this schedule of events.

Schulz said that National Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been confirmed as a guest and will be making an appearance on Tuesday, Sept. 14, with details on the specific time to be announced.

Also playing a significant role will be the growing number of global guests, with approximately 150 international visitors from various parts of the world expected to attend, thanks to efforts of the North Dakota Trade Office. Schulz said there will also be announcements of some special high ranking officials as part of this venue.

The annual tractor pulls will not be a part of the activity this year, however, an Antique Tractor and Farm Machinery Show will be a unique part of the action set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Tuesday and Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, just west of Harvest Hall, presented by the Lake Agassiz Two Cylinder Club.

Ladies programming will also be featured, as usual, with the Ladies Day Brunch, including entertainment and a style show, scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 15, at the Fargo Holiday Inn, with tickets available at the door. Doors will open at 9 a.m., with the event running from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. KFGO radio personality Sandy Buttweiler will serve as emcee with "The Blowhards" providing the entertainment.

A craft show will be staged from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day of Big Iron in the Craft Show building just north of the grandstand. Over 80 vendor booths, with products ranging from food, to jewelry to home accessories, will be previewed for sale.

Miss North Dakota 2011 Beth Ann Dennison will be available to greet the public and to promote her platform "Leading by Example: A Child's Guide to Becoming a Volunteer," from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 15. A nursing student at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, Dennison will compete in the Miss America competition in January, hoping to inspire North Dakota's young people to develop a spirit of volunteerism.

United Blood Services' bloodmobile will also be on the grounds each day from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. near the Health and Safety Center, Horticulture Building, for all those wishing to donate.

Health screenings will also be conducted daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Health and Safety Center.

As always, admission to the grounds and parking will be free. Daily transportation to and from the West Acres Mall and to the Holiday Inn for the ladies luncheon will be available, leaving from the KFGO building on the half hour or as necessary. There will also be people movers on the grounds to transport people, also free of charge, from parking areas to the grounds and around different areas of the grounds; and camping will be available just east of the show.

For more information about Big Iron, visit their website at or call 701-282-2200 or toll free 800-456-6408.