For 35 years, the Northeast Nebraska Farm Show has been a testament to Nebraska agriculture. With free admission and educational seminars, it continues to showcase businesses to provide products and services for producers of row crops and livestock.
This year’s show took place at the Northeast Community College campus in Norfolk Jan. 12 and 13.
“The show is successful because the economy in northeast Nebraska hinges on agriculture,” said Jeffrey Steffen, WJAG station manager. “We are vigilant about representing ag.”
News Talk WJAG partners with Farm Show Productions to host the Northeast Nebraska Farm Show each January. For some, the show has become a staple.
“Dinkel Implement has been involved in the show for many years and we always look forward to seeing our customers and potential customers,” said Brad Dinkel, co-owner of Dinkel Implement.
The first show was made possible by three men, Ed Riley, Joe Stavas and Rob Thomas. About 45 vendors filled the former Villa Inn, which was located near the intersection of 13th Street and Omaha Avenue in Norfolk, before being demolished in 2009. Dinkel Implement tried to squeeze a tractor into the back room of the hotel. More space was obviously needed.
From there, the show moved to the Norfolk City Auditorium for four years, then the Northeast Community College Cox Activities Center. Equipment was displayed in the parking lot. To move equipment indoors, the show transferred to the Madison County Fairgrounds in 1997. Plastic tunnels were built between buildings to protect people from the cold.
Show facilitators sought a facility large enough to house all vendors indoors in one location. In 2005, the Northeast Nebraska Farm Show found its permanent home in the newly-constructed NECC Chuck M. Pohlman Ag Complex located west of the intersection of Highway 35 and Benjamin Avenue.
“Credit to the foresight of NECC for the importance of an arena large enough to host shows like this,” Steffen said. “We really appreciate NECC and their partnership.”
Despite the 45,000 square feet available in the complex, space remains an issue with a waiting list for vendors each year. Usually there are 135 vendors, but with ingenuity they squeezed in 140 this year.
The date change in 2021 allowed new vendors to participate in the show. Fearing a post-holiday COVID-19 surge, organizers pushed back the show to February. Because some cooperate businesses were restricted from participating in farm shows, vendors from the waiting list finally debuted.
Preparing for the show is a year-long endeavor and the collaboration of many people, such as WJAG general sales manager Sally Lewis.
“Sally Lewis is the spear that keeps us going,” praised Steffen.
In addition to the vendors, the six educational seminars are a big draw.
Because state climatologist Al Dutcher was unable to attend, Nebraska Extension agricultural economist Jim Jansen presented cash rents and flex leases, as well as a second seminar about carbon credits and land management.
Jansen’s outlook on 2022 is “higher real estate values and increased interest rates.”
With the recent emphasis on carbon credits, featuring this topic both days of the show was appropriate. However, the uncertainty and skepticism from the seminar attendees was evident.
“It’s the wild, wild west right now,” Jansen responded to questions about carbon credits raised by the crowd.
Reporter Kristen Sindelar has loved agriculture her entire life, coming from a diversified farm with three generations working side-by-side in northeastern Nebraska. Reach her at Kristen.Sindelar@midwestmessenger.com.