by Cori Hilsgen
The Central Minnesota Farm Show at the River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud has hosted visitors for 50 years. This year’s event, held Feb. 28 through March 2, drew thousands of people.
“This year’s Farm Show celebrated the 50th year of cultivating friends,” said Sheri Wegner, special events coordinator. “The Central Minnesota Farm Show is the largest indoor farm show in the multi-state area, and we are proud to support and promote the agri-business in the area.”
Visitors had a chance to view new models of machinery, visit with more than 200 vendors, view more than 390 booths of area businesses exhibits, register for prizes, attend seminars and more.
“The Central Minnesota Farm Show is a free show because we want to encourage people to come and see the technological advances in agri-business and make the connection on how closely agriculture in our state directly affects our lives,” Wegner said.
Some area businesses that had booths at the farm show included Stearns Electric, Powerhouse Outdoor Equipment, Cy Pfannenstein Music Service, Huls Bros. Trucking, Inc./Avon Lime Service division, Central Minnesota Credit Union, Minnesota Home Improvement Inc. and more.
The Stearns Electric booth offered the chance to talk with its EnergyWise department about such topics as agricultural electrification, EnergyWise programs and efficiency rebates. Visitors could meet with billing department members to see how their SmartHub program can help customers manage their accounts, energy usage and bill.
Stearns Electric partnered with East Central Energy to offer visiting members a chance to register for a children’s John Deere Gator ride-on toy.
Stearns Electric has been a part of the farm show for 18 years.
“This is an opportunity to visit with a lot of members,” said Dave Gruenes, Stearns Electric Association’s corporate executive officer. “It is a good place for us to be.”
He said it offers visitors a chance to discuss issues such as using energy wisely when building a new home or a new barn, using renewable energy and much more.
Visitors who stopped at the Powerhouse Outdoor Equipment booth could view new selections of lawn mowers and more. Powerhouse has locations in St. Joseph and St. Cloud.
Owner Vic Boeckmann has been coming to the show for six years.
He said the foot traffic at the farm show was steady, and he had a chance to visit with a lot of people to discuss new options on the market such as the eXmark Radius lawn mower used by many larger-acre owners and beginning commercial cutters.
Craig Bertram, who operates “Craig’s Lawn Service” of St. Joseph, discussed lawn mowers with Boeckmann. Bertram said he grew up on a farm by Spring Hill and tries to visit the farm show every year.
Cyril “Cy” Pfannenstein discussed his popular musical compact discs with those who visited his “Cy Pfannenstein Music Service” booth. His son, Kyle Pfannenstein, helped at the booth.
Pfannenstein’s booth offered a variety of musical choices, including country, polka, gospel and more. This year the booth offered a larger selection of country choices, as well as selections of Irish singer Danny O’Donnell, a North Dakota band featuring Matt Hodek and more.
Cy was a former band member who performed on the trumpet, concertina and drums in various bands for more than 35 years. Many attendees know him from the St. Joseph Meat Market where he manages the sausage department and which his brother, Harvey Pfannenstein, owns.
Besides selling music, Cy also hosts a Sunday-morning radio show on KASM radio station in Albany.
Cy said Kyle planned and organized the setup of the music for their booth. Kyle also operates Central Minnesota Party Bus of St. Joseph.
Jim Fuchs and Lynell Sobania of Avon Lime Service, a division of Huls Bros Trucking located on Collegeville Road in St. Joseph, said the business has been at the farm show for many years. Many visitors who are interested in ordering lime or trucking for hire, such as hauling granite for driveways and more, often stop at the booth to visit.
Dale Job discussed agriculture lending options with visitors at the Central Minnesota Credit Union booth. Job usually works out of the Cold Spring or Paynesville branches and has attended the farm show for 16 years.
The Central Minnesota Farm Show is organized and coordinated by the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce and is one of the largest in the Upper Midwest.
Wegner said this year’s show attracted more than 3,500 visitors.
KASM and WVAL radio stations and the Linder Farm Network broadcasted live from the show which offered a variety of exhibits, including tractors, skid loaders, trucks and more.
Seminars offered at the event included “Carrying the Load: Is your equipment fit for the road?” and a “Market Outlook Seminar” on Tuesday, “Turning Precision Data into Profits” and a “Market Outlook Seminar” on Wednesday and “Planning Your Legacy” on Thursday.
Each year a portion of the proceeds from the farm show is dedicated to school scholarships. Students can apply for the scholarships, which are awarded based on merit and a stated intent to continue their education by studying some area of agriculture.
In the past, the scholarships were awarded only to high-school seniors, but the scholarship program has been expanded to include trade school and college students as well.
Since the program began in 1982, the Chamber has awarded more than 200 scholarships for a total of almost $75,000.
The Farm Show Committee will award 10 $500 scholarships this year to high school and/or college students.
For more information, visit the website, CentralMNFarmShow.com.
Hilsgen is a contributing reporter for the Newsleaders. The central Minnesota native is a wife, mother and grandmother. She has a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and Communication from Concordia University – St. Paul, MN and enjoys learning about and sharing other people's stories through the pages of the Newsleaders.