DeKALB – Jim Zenz said he doesn’t think the cancellation of the Northern Illinois Farm Show will much affect his business and he wasn’t all that surprised by the news that the annual showcase no longer would be coming around DeKalb after almost four decades.
“I guess I could see it coming just because last year they never gave us the packet to renew like they always have on the last day,” Zenz said, who’s been with the show for those older than age 25. “And there were some rumors. As far as the effect it’ll have on business, it won’t really be much. I don’t think it’ll hurt too bad to be honest.”
The IDEAg Northern Illinois Farm Show is canceled for 2020. For the past 37 years the show typically has been held during the first week of January. It has been located at the Convocation Center on the campus of Northern Illinois University since 2003. Prior to 2003, the annual event featuring a wide variety of agricultural businesses was in Rockford.
“Many factors went into our decision,” said Niki Jones, marketing manager for IDEAg, the event hosting company, about canceling the show for the upcoming year. “We want to provide farmers the best experience possible, and we believe that given the current agriculture industry environment, now is a good time to revamp our show with the goal of ramping up the education and information farmers need to be successful.”
DeKalb-based Zenz Buildings Inc. is in the pole barn building business, and owner Zenz said he’s “one of the lucky” long-time vendors. Since his projects typically come with a hefty price tag, he’s able to sustain his business regardless of what clients he may lose without the show.
When the farm show came through the Convocation Center in January, many attendees expressed similar feelings, calling the show a family tradition and using it as a time to connect both professionally and personally with neighboring folks in the farming industry.
It’s a sentiment shared by Dean Johnson, executive director for the Soil and Water Conservation District of DeKalb County. While his team didn’t make a profit off the farm show because they don’t sell products, Johnson said the show afforded him an opportunity to hold educational workshops, including an always-popular weather segment forecasting patterns for farming to take into consideration.
“Offering up these programs also gave [attendees] some updated information,” Johnson said. “And if that’s not available, they’re going to have to find that information other ways. [The show] was just a convenient way to provide information face-to-face, and sometimes we don’t have those opportunities anymore for direct contact.”
IDEAg, which organizes several farm shows including events in Minnesota, South Dakota and Texas, has plans for a new show.
In addition to meeting with fertilizer, grain handling, pest control, insurance, precision ag product and many other companies during the farm show, farmers also had the opportunity to gather information for their operations during the educational presentations.
• Shaw Media’s Martha Blum contributed to this report.