Mark your calendars for one of the greatest farm shows of the year, and it’s happening right here in Jefferson County.
Farm Technology Days, a tribute to all that is cutting edge about agriculture, will be happening in the Grellton area at County Highway A and French Road on the Walter Grain Farm.
Between now until the July 23 opening of the three-day event, that farm will be transformed into a small tent city. It will be a showpiece not only for the farming industry, but Jefferson County as well.
It will take some 1,500 volunteers just to make the 66th annual event take place, so you can imagine the size of the crowd.
Sandwiched between the state’s two largest urban metropolises, Jefferson County is a powerhouse of agriculture. As recently as 2012, the county boasted $85 million in grain commodities, $58 million in milk commodities, $55 million in poultry and eggs, $26 million in cattle and calves and $17 million in greenhouse and nursery stock.
Still not convinced?
Of the 48,431 jobs in the county, almost 8,000 are in the ag sector. That accounts for $512 million of the county’s total income and pays $32 million in taxes.
Farming and related businesses pump nearly $2 billion into the local economy each year. And nearly two-thirds of county land is entrusted to farms and the ag community.
And it’s not just about tractors and udders. Local companies like Emil’s Pizza, Mullen’s Dairy Bar, Kraemer’s Cheese, 7-UP and Berres Brothers Coffee, to name but a few, will be among the big sponsors of this event.
No matter how you look at it, that is impressive.
But don’t go just to get wowed. Go because it will be entertaining for your family, and informative, too.
What will there be to do under these tents?
This year, there will be evening hours on Wednesday, along with special discounts on admissions for evening-only visitors.
A block party, featuring Charlie Berens of the ManitowocMinute.com, also is on the Wednesday slate. There will be wine, cheese and 20-30 breweries featured.
There will be Thank a Farmer Day, raffles, plowing demonstrations, a tractor-implement souvenir collectible sale, Pioneer Pete touting the benefits of a career in ag, Craven the cream puff mascot, equine events, Mad Dog & Merrill, Innovation Square, field demonstrations and much more.
Don’t blink, because like the speed of technology, it will be gone in a flash. After July 25, it will disappear, and the crew behind it will be gearing up for next year’s event in Eau Claire.
And the Walter farm, 6,000 acres of family-owned or rented land, will return like Clark Kent to its normal, mild-mannered farming identity.
Agriculture is facing difficult times, but there will be better days ahead. Whether we appreciate it or not, we all depend on the ag industry for everything from food to energy and so much more in between.
But don’t go out of a sense of duty. Go because it’s a great way to celebrate the rural lifestyle we all know and love. It’s Farm Technology Days and it’s showcasing all that is good about the area we call home.