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Colusa Farm Show mixes new, old
The granddaddy of farm shows, the Colusa Farm Show, is an all-in-one event to display new equipment, generate new customers and connect with agricultural enthusiasts.
After 48 years, the Farm Show is growing and continues to provide insight to new developments in the industry.
Susan Clark, chief executive officer of the Colusa County Fairgrounds, said staff sold more vendor spaces than ever before, close to 350.
"I'm absolutely fascinated by the size and scope of the Farm Show," said Clark.
By the show's opening at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, the parking lots were quickly filling up and hoards of students who were pilling out school busses.
"This is the new generation of ag that we're showcasing, not just people, but equipment and tools. Ag is changing," said Clark.
From the beginning of the Colusa Farm Show 48 years ago, its aim was to provide orchardists with the latest equipment.
At that time, the industry was making major strides in switching from manual farm labor to mechanical processing. Dave Zwald, chairman of the Farm Show Committee, said that is still the role of the show. "Everything that comes here is the new prototype. From new emissions on equipment engines to equipment that requires less operators, reducing labor," said Zwald. "That's what everyone is working on, less labor and more efficiency."
One example of just that is a brand new piece of equipment displayed in the Main Exhibit Building, the Robo Rock Picker.
The large metal basket can be mounted to any skid loader to dig rock out of hard ground. Developed last year by a farmer in Minnesota, the company is making the rounds to build product awareness.
Brittany Fedder arrived in Colusa late Monday night to display the equipment to potential buyers in Colusa County.
"There's a lot of traffic. You get out there so people can see your product, we're building interest," said Fedder.
The new generation of agricultural markets is also represented at this year's Farm Show.
The general manager of the Prune Bargaining Association, Greg Thompson, will give a seminar at 10 a.m. today on emerging Asian markets that California producers can tap.
According to Thompson, the middle class demographic in China and other Asian countries are expected to expand over the next 20 years. That growing demographic, combined with an unstable food system in China, creates great opportunities.
"There has never been this kind of emerging economic growth in the history of the world," said Thompson. "I'll talk about what we've done to expand our market to the benefit of California producers."
Similarly, but on a smaller scale, Maisie Jane's California Sunshine Products are representing niche markets for nut farmers at their booth. Specializing in gourmet, organic and natural nut products, the company offers services for custom processing and packaging. They offer samples of gift packaged flavored walnuts and almonds.
Another new addition to the Farm Show is the increasing representation of conservation interests. Joining solar companies and fertilizer companies touting "green products," a booth for the Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership offered information to farmers about riparian reserves and creating habitat for waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway.
Michelle Gilbert, an ecologist with PRBO, said she was staffing the booth to increase contact with growers out on the landscape, because, "they're the best land stewards."
Farmers stopped by the booth to discuss increasing waterfowl on their land and to inquire about how they might aid in raising pheasant populations.
Of course, many things about the Farm Show are consistent throughout the years, including some longtime vendors.
Tallman Ladders has been making the trek down from Hood River, Ore., since the Farm Show's second year.
"When we started, we were one of the first aluminum ladders made. My great uncle sold a lot of ladders here at the Farm Show in the 1960s and we've been coming ever since," said Dave Tallman.
The consistency of the Farm Show seems to be a big a reason people like to attend, to see old friends and industry colleagues.
"Its fun to be with people who enjoy agriculture. I've got a lot of friends who come," said Rod Hisken of Oregon House.
Hisken restores old tractors and displays them at the Farm Show.
This year, he brought a newly restored 1935 model "BN" single wheel, John Deere tractor, which had originally been purchased in Colusa on May 31, 1935.
He acquired the tractor at the Farm Show a couple of years ago when he was approached by a man who said, "Hey, I got this old John Deere. It's kinda funny."
Hisken followed up with the man and found the tractor covered in rust out in the woods.
Zwald values that the show brings so many people together.
"You run across people you only see here," he said.
Clark says more than 40,000 people will attend the event, providing an economic boost to the area.
"It's like every big event, whether the Super Bowl or the Farm Show. Everyone gets a fair share," said Zwald.
"There are a lot of local vendors. The show gives them an opportunity to generate revenue, which is important especially in the times we're in," added Jim Rogers, who serves on the Farm Show Committee.