Big Iron

The people may be spaced a little further apart this year due to COVID-19, but this year’s Big Iron Farm Show is offering a full three-day schedule of events.

WEST FARGO, N.D. – Despite COVID-19, the annual classic Big Iron Farm Show will start its three-day run on Sept. 15 in West Fargo on the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. Although it will look different from the standard show format, the Big Iron Farm Show is committed to the ag industry and the important role it plays in production agriculture.

“We are having the 2020 Big Iron Farm Show because it is essential to North Dakota farming and our farming economy.” said Cody Cashman, general manager of the Red River Valley Fair (RRVF).

This is Cashman’s first year as RRVF general manager and he said they are working with Cass County Public Health officials to make sure the event is safe for everyone, and they are following the N.D. Smart Restart guidelines.

This year’s show, which will be the 40th annual, will be absent of three major equipment manufactures – John Deere, Case-IH, and New Holland. The three manufacturing companies have decided to forgo this year’s show due to the pandemic, but they do plan on returning for the 2021 show, according to Emily Grunewald, Big Iron coordinator. However, visitors to the show can expect a full exhibitors list, since a waiting list of over 70 businesses wanting a space at Big Iron are on file in the office, she noted.

“The businesses who do business with the farmers were, in the most part, asking that we have a show this year,” Grunewald said. “We have had a few exhibitors pull out of the show this year, but every day we are receiving requests from new firms that are interested in being part of the show. The businesses need to conduct business with the farmers and I think both farmers and businesses felt we needed to have a show this year.

“We are trying to make it a safe show for everybody and still make the world turn for the farmers and the businesses that help the farmers. The farmers need these supplies and services in order to have a successful harvest and year,” she added.

Big Iron officials have decided that they will not mandate that facemasks be worn by the public while on the Big Iron grounds, but they highly encourage it, Grunewald noted. However, all Big Iron employees and volunteers associated with the show will be wearing masks at all times.

In addition, they won’t be closing any of the doors to the buildings during show hours, which means the air conditioners will not be running in the event of warm weather.

“Having the doors open means people will not be constantly touching the door knobs when they enter and leave a building,” she explained. “We will also have an egress system, which means an entrance by just one door. Visitors can follow the arrows on the ground for traffic flow and there will be one exit door. We are encouraging all visitors to practice social distancing and wear a face mask during the show.”

Show changes

Some regular Big Iron events will not be held this year because of the pandemic. The daily field demonstrations will not be held this year and the morning pancake breakfast and the exhibitors’ picnic will not be held. Instead, the East Horse Barn will be the site of the Red River Farm Network’s “Issue and Events Center” program and the West Horse Barn will house the ACME Tool display. Show officials felt both events needed to move to a larger area in order to maintain a more favorable social distancing.

The food court will also be held in a different location. This year it will feature the usual great food, but will be located in the gravel parking lot north of the two horse barns on the west edge of the fairgrounds.

“By having it in a larger area it will allow proper social distancing while waiting in line to order your food,” Grunewald said.

Standard Big Iron information

Though there are changes this year, much of Big Iron will remain the same. A large array of educational events will be available. The NDSU Extension Service will set up an education center in the front lobby of the Hartl Ag Building and will cover a wide variety of ag subjects, and the ever popular Red River Farm Network’s “Issues and Events Center” will highlight the latest ag news from the USDA, as well as marketing information, the long-range weather forecast and information on land values.

Additional information on these two areas of ag education can be found in a separate article in this Big Iron section. You can also learn about the status of your health or make a blood donation at the North Dakota Living Health and Safety Center.

People movers will be available to carry visitors throughout the show, and Grunewald said the people mover equipment will sanitized several times a day for the public’s safety. Free Wi-Fi service will be provided on the grounds for those needing to stay in touch with the outside world.

Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 15-16, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17. There is no admission charge and parking is free.

For more information on events or to check out the schedule, go to the Big Iron Farm Show website at