The general manager of Wisconsin Farm Technology Days said Tuesday that Kewaunee County is “made” to host the three-day expo that is one of the biggest outdoor farm shows in the country.
“When you drive down the Main Street of any of the towns here, you find that people recognize the importance of agriculture, whether it’s the insurance agent or the restaurant,” Matt Glewen said. “And all these people have come together to organize what I think is going to be just an incredible show.”
Tuesday was Media Day at Ebert Enterprises southwest of Algoma, the host of Kewaunee County Farm Technology Days 2017. Local and state dignitaries gathered with members of the 19 volunteer committees to give area media a chance to gather information about the big event scheduled for July 11-13, which is expected to draw up to 45,000 visitors to the county.
The event dates to 1954, when educators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and state officials sought ways to connect farmers with all of the new technology that was becoming available. It became an annual event held in a different county every year, so that local farmers could have a chance to see it within traveling distance from time to time.
That means the show is always managed mostly by a group of volunteers that have never done this before, Glewen said.
“When we talk to other shows around the country about that, they can’t even imagine how that could even be possible,” he said.
Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel complimented the group for organizing what he said was one of the better Media Days he has seen in his years in the post.
“Technology has no value until somebody takes hold of it and makes use of it and shares it and creates something with that,” Brancel said. “And for Kewaunee County to be willing to step up and to host this and to do it in such a manner that you’ve already laid out for us, this is just absolutely fantastic.”
At the center of Ebert Enterprises is the family comprised of Randy and Renee Ebert and their children, Whitney and Jordan. Randy’s parents, Henry and Carol Ebert, were also on hand Tuesday. The farm has 50 year-round employees and about 20 seasonal workers, Ebert said.
In the middle of the three-year planning process for next month’s event, the Eberts suffered a major loss when their 19-year-old daughter Britney died May 12, 2016. Whitney’s twin, Britney was born with limitations – the family discouraged the use of the phrase “special needs” – and was a beloved member of the family.
A year later, Randy Ebert struggled to get out the words as he told the Media Day group, “We lost our rock.”
But he said the family wanted to share Britney’s memory and encouraged reporters to ask about her.
“When we talk about it, and we show a little emotion, it’s actually good memories, so don’t be scared to ask about it,” he said.
The center of Farm Technology Days is the 60-acre Tent City that will be erected in the middle of a farm field. It’s a city with 10 streets in one direction and four in the other, where hundreds of booths will give visitors a taste of modern agricultural technology in all of its diverse forms.
The event is seen as an opportunity to show off all the good things about Kewaunee County.
“That’s one of the exciting things about Farm Tech Days,” said Mike Austin, Green Bay ag journalist who hosted Tuesday’s presentation. “It’s not only about the Ebert Farm or what’s going to happen in Tent City and the demonstrations, it’s also what’s happening around the county, how they’re opening their doors to you and hope you sample some of Kewaunee County and take that back with you.”
Brancel said he has been impressed by the quality and dedication of the team that’s assembling this year’s show.
“I can just tell from today’s event that when you come here on Technology Days, you will be at an event that’s very, very special and is very unique and has something to offer to every individual that comes, and there’s something that they can take home from this that’ll benefit themselves and their community,” Brancel said.
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