Ben Brancel, Wisconsin secretary of agriculture, trade and consumer protection, said the purpose of Farm Technology Days is to educate people about the agriculture industry.
“It’s a great opportunity to not only educate people in Wisconsin but also people in Illinois,” Brancel said. “The one thing that’s so unique about this particular show is you can see an actual farm operation that’s engaged in production and provides nutrition for every family and every household in this state. That’s a rare opportunity.”
Farm Technology Days will help attract many visitors to the area, said James Stowell, chairman of the Walworth County event.
“We’re pretty proud to show off our county. It’s never been here. It’s an opportunity to get the rest of the state here, as well as people from Illinois,” Stowell said. “The Snudden family has been very good about hosting the show. They’re very interested in educating the public about agriculture. That’s why we’re here.”
Farm Technology Days will feature more than 600 exhibitors that will display agricultural technology, equipment, products and supplies. Stowell said technology has played an important role in the agriculture industry during the past few decades.
“In the old days, farmers just winged it. Every cow now has a computer chip in it. You’re able to track production, what they’re fed and what they’ve produced. It’s just a whole different way of farming. Everything is monitored extensively ... “ Stowell said. “Everything from managing a dairy herd to managing the crop production, it’s all done by computers. Farming, itself, is all done by GPS.”
The event will include tours of Snudden Farms. Steve Snudden said he and his family are looking forward to showcasing how their farm is operated.
“It’s a large farm. It takes a close land mass to host this show, and I’m fortunate enough to own enough acres in a close proximity to handle the demonstrations and the crowds,” Snudden said. “I think we’re all excited. I guess it’s an honor, but I’m doing it more as a payback to the community.”
The event will include field demonstrations to showcase how some of the newer farm equipment is operated.
“We’ve got a whole list of equipment,” said Russ Weis of the field demonstration committee. “We’re going to stop and have Q&A sessions where visitors can talk to the operators who just demonstrated their equipment. So, there’s going to be more one-on-one sessions between the operators and the guests.”
Visitors can participate in hands-on activities and view educational exhibits in the family living tent.
“We’ll have a little bit of everything. We try to focus on history, education and fun,” said Rachael Crane, chair of the family living committee. “We’re very excited about the lineup we have and for what’s in store.”
Besides learning about agriculture, visitors can receive a history lesson, as Innovation Square will feature a miniature Geneva Lake, which will include information about agricultural-related sites along the lake, including the Flowerside/Chapin Farms, Pottawatomie villages, Ceylon Court/Maytag Farm, Black Point Estate/Baker Farm and Yerkes Observatory.
“Instead of having the mansions, we’re going to have the barns of these estates, which is a tie-in to agriculture,” said Ginny Hall, a local historian. “There’s going to be wigwams from the Pottawatomie Indians. We’re going to have information about the first 4-H club in Wisconsin, which was located in the town of Linn.
“We’re going to have a photograph of Albert Einstein at the Yerkes Observatory. (Albert Einstein) said he wanted to visit two places in the United States -- Niagara Falls and Yerkes Observatory.”
Kristine Ely of the equine committee said Farm Technology Days will feature draft horses and equine-related education displays and programs.
“We have some nationally recognized clinicians coming in. We also will have demonstrations,” Ely said. “We’ll have our lunch and learn programs, featuring various veterinarians, curators and educational displays. So, come down to the equine area, so you can see all the fun that we have going on.”
Attendees are expected to bring their appetites, because Farm Technology Days will feature a variety of food vendors selling brats, chicken wraps, shepherd’s pie, ice cream and smoked pork bowls.
“We will have your regular brat, but every day we will have a different featured brat. One day, we’re going to have a portobello mushroom and Swiss brat. One day, we’re going to have a vidalia onion brat. One day, we will have a ‘Packer brat,’ and that will have cheddar cheese, spinach and bacon in it,” said Kathy Papcke of the food and vendor committee. “We will have cheeseburgers and hamburgers. We will be featuring items from around the county. … We want to feature as many of our local growers as possible.”
Walworth County has been preparing to host Farm Technology Days for three years.
“I was skeptical when this idea was brought to the county in 2013,” County Administrator Dave Bretl said. “I thought, ‘This is never going to happen,’ but one thing I’ve seen with the planning of all this is how many people with agricultural backgrounds have worked and finished the job until it’s done right.”
Snudden said most of the work has been done by committee members.
“In all honesty, the committees have handled it all. They’ve been wonderful,” Snudden said. “Besides having to do the plantings and crop preparation, I haven’t had to play a big part in it.”