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Official: Dakotafest has long-term future with Farm Bureau

A man stood up during a question-and-answer session Tuesday at Dakotafest near Mitchell and got straight to the point with American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.

He wondered exactly what the Farm Bureau's incentive was to purchase Cygnus Business Media's agricultural events -- including Dakotafest -- and publications.

Stallman, attending Dakotafest for his first time, spoke to farmers and ranchers mainly about the future of the farm bill, but said there were multiple motivations to make the purchase.

"These are very good businesses that are very well-run," he said. "It's a business opportunity, and we've also already been involved in these organizations and publications to a much lesser level. But who better to own a farm show and make it bigger and better than an organization of farmers and ranchers providing that for farmers and ranchers?"

In an Aug. 5 news release, the Washington, D.C.-based American Farm Bureau Federation confirmed its purchase of five IDEAg branded farm shows: Dakotafest, in Mitchell; Farmfest, in Redwood County, Minn.; the Amarillo (Texas) Farm and Ranch Show; the Northern Illinois Farm Show, in DeKalb, Ill.; and the IDEAg Interconnectivity Conference, in Altoona, Iowa. The deal also includes the acquisition of Feed & Grain magazine and Case IH's Farm Forum magazine.

Stallman -- who declined to discuss terms of the sale -- believes the acquisition will be for the long-term. He noted that the bureau's 100th anniversary is in 2019 and it is thinking forward to expanding by then.

"The question that came up was, 'How do we further engage our relationship with farmers and ranchers?' " he said. "Coincidentally, we found out Cygnus Media wanted to sell these assets. It seemed to make sense. We viewed this as stepping into the next level and helping the long-term future."

Dakotafest began in 1996 with 318 vendors and has grown to 685 vendors this year.

"The American Farm Bureau Federation is really proud to have a new relationship with Dakotafest," Stallman said. "We're looking forward to a great relationship for the future and hope this show gets nothing but bigger and better."

Dakotafest continues through Thursday. A show official estimated Tuesday's attendance at 5,000 to 6,000 and said the hot weather, with temperatures in the upper 80s and the heat index in the upper 90s, probably hurt the numbers. Today's forecast is partly sunny, with a high in the upper 80s and light winds.