Produced annually by the radio station 560 KMON, the Montana Agricultural and Industrial Expo (MAGIE) has come to be recognized as one of the state’s premier agriculture tradeshows. Vendors from across Montana, Canada, and surrounding states normally convene in Great Falls, Mont., in January to display the latest and greatest in agriculture technologies to area farmers and ranchers. This year, however, the tradeshow’s 41st year will look much different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Like you have seen with so many different organizations, public safety, safety of employees, and safety of vendors has to come first. With the COVID pandemic and the situation we are in now, the decision was made to go forward with a virtual MAGIE for 2021,” explained Randy Bogden, the ag voice for 560 KMON and thusly an integral part in orchestrating the MAGIE every year.
Bogden went on to say the decision to go virtual was not made lightly. Wintertime tradeshows play an all too important role for most agriculturalists. They are a place where growers can learn about the latest and greatest tractors or order seed. They are a place where livestock producers get to see what is new in the world of handling systems. But maybe above all else, tradeshows like the MAGIE are a great place for producers to share a cup of coffee and a chat with like-minded individuals.
Nothing will ever replace face-to-face interactions, but producers of the MAGIE plan to virtually deliver the next best thing.
“We are calling it the ‘Ultimate MAGIE Show.’ What we have done is invited our vendors to participate in the form of a tile rather than a booth,” Bogden said.
Instead of canvasing aisle after aisle of vendors this year, starting on Jan. 4 and running through the entire month, producers will instead be able to log on to www.560kmon.com and be directed to a webpage with the vendor’s tiles or icons. Within the individual tiles will be information relevant to the company or product. Additionally, there will be questions that interested individuals can answer. The questions will help company/product owners gain demographic perspective and gage interest. Those participating in the Ultimate MAGIE Show will have the opportunity to be entered into a $500 door prize for every tile they answer questions at.
“Right now we have about 25 vendors, so we have a lot of door prizes that we are handing out,” Bogden stated.
Door prizes will range from $500 gift certificates to in-store credit to product rebates. Vendors will get a lot of value from this, as well, because MAGIE producers will compile the demographic and contact information from those who actively participated at the tile. They will then give that information back to the vendors so they can further follow up with potential customers.
“We’ve actually done a couple shows like this already this year and we’ve found the success rate to be extremely high. The vendors who follow up with those potential clients have had huge success growing their business,” Bogden pointed out.
The main purpose of agriculture tradeshows is to bring industry-pertinent products and technologies to one convenient location so producers can learn, network and make business decisions for the coming growing year. Although it won’t be in the traditional sense, the Ultimate MAGIE Show has the same goals in mind this year.
There will not be additional education classes at the MAGIE this year and unfortunately the usual 4-H and FFA events will not be happening either. Despite all the major modifications that are having to be made due to the pandemic, agriculture must still go on and the MAGIE will still be there for interested producers.