Farm show floor view

PEORIA, Ill. — While considering a purchase these days, farmers often start with an Internet search to see what’s out there. But for many, there nothing like seeing farm equipment in person.

“It’s kind of hard to kick the tires on the Internet,” said Don Slagel, a farmer and a co-owner of a farm equipment business and manufacturing operation in Livingston County, Illinois.

He has attended dozens of farm equipment shows over the years and will likely walk through the doors of eight to 10 this year as an exhibitor or a farmer. The first one on his list is the 38th annual Greater Peoria Farm Equipment Show that runs Dec. 3-5 at the Peoria Civic Center.

“As a farmer it’s been a very challenging year,” he said.

The lower commodity prices put extra stress on farmers this year, the Livingston County farmer said. However, he is pretty pleased with his yields considering the late spring.

“If we could see an increase in commodity prices, everybody’s outlook would be better,” he said.

In addition to farming, he and his brother, Mark Slagel, own Vulcan Equipment and Slagel Manufacturing in Forrest, Illinois, selling and manufacturing conservation tillage equipment.

Normally, sales pick up this time of year, but farmers have been holding back with the late harvest and uncertainty in markets, he said.

“For our own operation, we aren’t making any purchases this year,” he said.

But that does not deter him from looking at the latest products available and doing research in person for when he is ready to buy.

The Slagels are among 300 companies at the farm show this year, which will feature more than 1,000 product lines in the more than 90,000 square feet of exhibit space at the Peoria Civic Center.

It is a place for farmers to see the latest in new equipment at what is billed as the largest indoor farm show in Illinois. Approximately 20,000 area farmers attend annually.

“This year I have 43 new companies at the show,” said Penny Swark, the show’s manager.

As much as commodity prices and trade have been on farmers’ minds this year, the weather continues to impact farming operations. Covering that topic at the Peoria Farm Show will be Elwynn Taylor, Iowa State University climatologist, who will present his 2020 crop weather outlook. His presentations are at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, and 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3. He will speak about long-term weather patterns that will have an impact on next year’s crop production.

Another popular part of the annual show is the display of antique tractors and a chance to visit their owners and restorers. Jerry Tibbs, a Topeka, Illinois, goat farmer and tractor enthusiast, plans to attend the farm show, even if some of his friends and fellow antique tractor fans still have field work to do.

“I am hoping to bring a newly restored IH 400,” he said three weeks before the show was set to begin. “I have been working on it for about four months and nearly have it finished.

“We really don’t know what tractors will be there until they show up. Most of our usual exhibitors are still doing farm work and will not make a commitment yet,” added Tibbs, who is in charge of the tractor exhibit.

The show features mostly tractors from three area clubs —the San Jose Tri-county Tractor Club, of which Tibbs is a member in Mason County, the River Valley Antique Association, based in Peoria County, and the South Fulton Tractor Club from Fulton County.

For those who like the smaller version of farm machinery, the 2019 Peoria Farm Toy Show is also held on site.

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Phyllis Coulter is Northern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.