DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Decatur is preparing to welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors next week as the Farm Progress Show returns to town.
Showcasing new technologies at the forefront of farming, the event is expected to bring in an estimated 200,000 visitors. The annual event shares its time with Booth, Iowa on even years and Decatur during the odd years.
The show takes place on Richland Community College’s campus. It takes a lot of preparation to get the campus ready, but event staff perform a majority of the work.
“As long as the grass is mowed and it looks nice and clean, really, they tend to take everything from there,” said Joe Feinstein, Richland’s Interim Vice President of Technology and Administration.
He said setting up for the show has been low maintenance for the college after they built an entire town-like setup called Progress City, facilitating the layout and grandstands needed for such a large event. Feinstein said the idea came up after a prior venue had a large storm roll through, leaving the event’s terrain a sloppy mess. Now, visitors can walk on paved walkways.
“The show might be a little safer to walk around at least, or a little less muddy,” Feinstein said. “And that’s really where we began to build what you see out in Progress City right now.”
Robert Basche has helped set up tents at Progress City for almost 20 years, and he’s seen a lot of change since he started.
“In ’05, it was still dirt roads, and then I think ’07 we got asphalt,” Basche said. “Every year, another building goes up, or whatever building, and yeah, it changes a little bit every year.”
Basche lives in Indiana and won’t be able to see the actual show next week, but he has attended the event featuring his handiwork in action in years past. He said it is a fun experience.
“Something to do on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday,” he said.
This year’s show will have new drone technology, combine demonstrations, and other hands-on opportunities for farmers. The event is Tuesday through Thursday, next week.