The event is Farmfest. It started in 1972 at Vernon Center on the Burt Hanson farm. Other area farms also participated in the event, but the exhibits, tractor pull were on the Bert Hanson Farm. It also hosted the World Plowing contest. This was the first time the event was held in the United States. I am not sure, but it may be the only time this event has been in the United States.
The next time the event was held was in 1976. This was located on the Les Lloyd farm west of Lake Crystal. Other neighbors helped with the event for the Field Demos. The main part was on the farm owned by Les Lloyd, which his son-in-law and daughter, Bob and Judy Schroeder farmed. The tractor pull, entertainment and exhibits were on this farm. The event was designated as the Bi-Centennial Salute to Agriculture in the United States. The Bi-Centennial Freedom Train stopped there. It still is classified as one of the largest Farm Shows which has ever been held.
Both events lasted 7 days and were plagued by rains. Which is not usual for September. The dates were 13-19 of September.
The biggest names in the entertainment business performed at this event. Such names as Bob Hope, Roy Rogers, John Davidson, Glen Campbell, Loretta Lynn, Charlie Pride, Jimmy Carter, Bob Dole, Earl Butz, and many others.
After the 1976 event it filed bankruptcy. It was plagued by bad weather and a host of other things.
Marlyn Buss purchased the name of Farmfest from the bankruptcy court in 1977. He started the event again on his Dad's farm east of Lake Crystal. It was scaled down to a 3 days and more emphasis on an Ag Trade Show, rather then on entertainment event. Although a tractor pull still continued and country music stars including Loretta Lynn and Lee Greenwood.
It continued on this farm for 8 years and grew each year with more exhibitors. It was at this time the State Fairs was losing agriculture exhibitors, mainly because 12 days was too long for most agriculture customers. The fair was no longer drawing the farmers. More and more urban people were attending the fair which reduced the customers that could buy machinery. Hence the fair no longer has a Machinery Hill displaying tractors, combines, and other machinery.
After 8 years the event grew to large for this farm and the event was moved to Austin. It was held on an acreage north of Austin, but in the city limits.
It lasted 4 short years there and it again was moved to Redwood county on the Gilfillian farm located between Redwood Falls and Morgan. Farmfest showed more growth in this located and is still held there. The first year was in 1994 at Redwood and is still a very successful 3 day Ag Trade Show at this site.
The event is a reflection of the changes in Agriculture in our State. Farm shows have changed from corn picking, plowing contest to highly mechanized, computer driven equipment.
I have been to every Farmfest since 1972, including and tear down, which is over 100 days.
--Marlyn Buss, Lake Crystal, MN
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