After 12 years, the Great Bend Farm Ranch and Hemp Expo is no more.
Bird City-based Star Enterprises, which owns the show, will move it to Hutchinson, starting next year. Named Kansas Ag Expo in Hutchinson, it will run from March 30 to April 1, 2023.
According to a link to the show on the Star Enterprises website, “Kansas Ag Expo 2023 is dubbed the largest agricultural event in the United States dedicated to promoting agricultural technology.”
“It’s bittersweet,” said Tana Dale, who runs Star Enterprises with her husband Darren. “Great Bend has served us well for many years.”
However, “it was time to make the switch,” she said. “It was one of the things you had to do to keep going.”
The official and unsuccessful announcement will take place on Tuesday at Hutchinson.
Tana said the Kansas State Fair offered a big sponsorship they couldn’t refuse.
“Everything will be under one roof,” she said. Here, “there were a lot of people playing in the same sandbox”.
Working with the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, the City of Great Bend, the Barton County Fair Association and the Sunflower Rod and Custom Association has been tricky, she said. The event took place at the Great Bend Expo complex to the west of the city, which is owned by the city, with the chamber owning the Expo I and II buildings and the SRCA leasing the drag strip.
“We just want to tell the people of Great Bend what a fun ride we had,” Darren said. He thanked the community for being part of the Dale family.
“Your city as a community opened your heart to us,” he said. “But it was a business decision.”
The move was made due to changes and consolidations in the agricultural industry and the cost of running the show in Great Bend.
“I totally wish them the best. There are no hard feelings,” said Megan Barfield, president of the Great Bend Chamber. Until this year, the chamber helped coordinate the show.
“But, like everything, it had a shelf life,” she said. “It was time for them to move on and grow.”
She said there had already been discussions about other options and types of events that could replace the agricultural exhibition. “It can create options for something else to be born here.”
Star Enterprises was not the first agricultural show based in Great Bend. Western Kansas Manufacturers Association general manager Eddie Estes announced in July 2011 that the 3i Show (focusing on industry, tools and irrigation) would no longer alternate between Great Bend and Garden City as it had been doing for decades. It is now located in Dodge City, headquarters of the WKMA.
About a week after this news, the Dales and Star companies announced that they would be sponsoring the Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo.