3i SHOW to mark 70 years in March

(Photo courtesy of Association of Equipment Manufacturers.)

One of the signature agriculture shows in the High Plains will be celebrating seven decades of success in helping inform farmers and ranchers about the latest in innovation.

Eddie Estes, president and CEO of the Western Kansas Manufacturers Association, Dodge City, Kansas, which oversees the 3i SHOW, said the event continues in the tradition of celebrating achievements in industry, implements and irrigation.

The 3i SHOW is set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 12 and 13, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 14, at the Western State Bank Expo Center in Dodge City. Estes noted the change to a mid-week format of Tuesday through Thursday in 2024.

3i Show

“We surveyed our exhibitors as we do every year and came to the conclusion that was what they thought was best for them and for attendees,” Estes said. “What they are trying to do is get the right people to stop and see what’s available and that (a survey) is the best way to find out.”

As he reflects on the past 70 years, Estes says the 3i SHOW’s success started with visionaries. The early shows were a “traveling show” where multiple communities rolled out the red carpet to see the latest in farm equipment and services available for farmers and ranchers. Eventually the show rotated between Garden City and Great Bend for 32 years.

The WKMA made the decision to move the show permanently to Dodge City as the Western State Bank Expo Center was in place. The 3i SHOW was the first major show in 2012. Estes said the expo center came about because of the work of many public and private partners in Dodge City and Ford County and included governing bodies who enthusiastically backed the project. The expo center is a remarkable achievement and continues to grow in popularity with events throughout the year, Estes said.

“There are many events that wouldn’t be here otherwise and that is result of many people who decided to work together and have a facility that we can all be proud of and support,” he said.

2024 show

Besides signature themes of industry, implements and irrigation, organizers look for ways to add new features and retain popular ones.

A new feature is the Mobile Dairy Classroom, which is designed to teach youth about the dairy industry and offers a traveling milk parlor with a live cow and oral presentation. The Mobile Dairy Classroom is an undertaking of the Southwest and Southland Dairy Farmers, which is an alliance of dairy farmers from Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, Oklahoma, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Producers have pooled their resources to provide consumer education in nutrition, to promote dairy product use and provide dairy product information. During 2019, the mobile classrooms made presentations to more than 675,000 people at fairs, festivals, livestock shows and school settings.

The dairy exhibit is important because of Hilmar Cheese’s location in Dodge City, which will help boost the growing dairy industry, Estes said.

A returning popular event is a gun show, he said. The gun show is under the direction of Wade Hampton whom Estes credits with coordinating and promoting a successful show.

Another returning event that is critical to rural communities is tied to workforce development, Estes said. The Kansas WorkforceONE will be offering services to contracted exhibitors on March 14.

“Everyone is looking for good help,” Estes said.

Tucky Allen, the business services director and rapid response coordinator for Kansas WorforceONE, will be onsite to visit with employers about services to help recruit, train and retain employees. Also, jobseekers can come and visit the booth to discuss ways to get the skills necessary to be a viable candidate when employers are looking to fill an opening.

Kansas Works plans to have an interview room at the show.

Estes also encouraged farmers and ranchers to go to the west arena to see exhibitors who have room to show how the equipment works. Estes said exhibitors in that area like to demonstrate how their portable corrals work as an example.

Saying thanks

Each year the 3i SHOW has an opening ceremony to honor and recognize veterans from Fort Dodge, Estes said. The ceremony is important for organizers and eventgoers because they can “thank you for their service because without them there wouldn’t be a 3i SHOW.”

Local American Legion Post No. 47 provides a 21-gun salute the Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce invites people to attend as the chamber is a major sponsor of the opening ceremony.

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Other events are also in the planning stage so more activities will be announced closer to the show. Admission and parking are free. Additional information and ways to be an exhibitor are available by calling 620-227-8082 or visiting www.3ishow.com.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].