MADISON — The morning before their annual luncheon meeting on April 4, the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days board of directors heard a presentation from representatives of the Iola Car Show. And according to Farm Technology Days chairman John Shutske, the board was really impressed with what they had to offer.
Planning for the 2021 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days has been a bit of a challenge, Shutske said at the annual meeting. With factors such as the futures of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension, agriculture in the state and the region, and the health of committee members, the board is now strongly considering a partnership with the Iola Car Show for the 2021 event.
“We’re viewing it as a pilot for that year,” Shutske said. “We don’t want it to be a permanent site (for the show).”
In all of the 65 years before, Farm Technology Days has been held at a host farm, providing attendees with a window into operations at local agriculture enterprises. The event has also been run by committees of volunteers in each host county.
Shutske said the Iola Car Show facility has the infrastructure to hold an event like Farm Technology Days, including permanent buildings, restrooms, parking and other amenities. It could equate to cost savings for farm show organizers and may also provide a larger volunteer base for the summer event.
“They’ve been really embracing,” he said. “The Iola Car Show would really like to be a partner in 2021.”
The Iola Car Show grounds are nestled in the small town of Iola in Waupaca County. Surrounded by an agricultural area with several potato farms, the 300-acre facility boasts 4,200 swap spaces for vendors and sees 120,000 guests each day during its three-day show in July.
To Managing Director Larry Fechter, the partnership feels like a good fit. Interestingly, the first Farm Technology Days was held in Waupaca County.
“It all intertwines — our history at Iola and Farm Technology Days,” Fechter said.
Both organizations have a proud history that span decades.
Farm Technology Days board members plan to attend the 46th annual Iola Car Show this summer to tour the facility and ask questions about how a partnership might work. Discussions will continue throughout the year, with a final announcement anticipated to be made in October, Shutske said.
If the board sees success with the possible partnership, it may look into exploring similar sites to host future Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.