John Boers gets up for the Fort Wayne Farm Show – early.
The 56-year-old retiree traveled Tuesday from the Kalamazoo, Mich., area to attend the 25th annual three-day agricultural event at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center that ends Thursday.
Boers was among the first to arrive on the show's kickoff day. The farming enthusiast made a two-hour drive to make it in time as the doors swung open at 9 a.m.
"I don't stay at a hotel because I just come down for the one day," said Boers, adding that the show takes him back to his younger days. "I used to help my stepfather on his farm. I love it."
He is not alone. Organizers expect more than 30,000 people to attend the farm show, which features 400 exhibits, organizations and displays to eyeball.
For Boers, the event is a time to reminisce.
"Those were some of the best times, working on the farm," he said. "Now, I just come to look at the new and latest equipment. I get a kick out of it."
So does 77-year-old Ross Bryant of Ossian. The fourth-generation farmer grows corn and soybeans. He also was one of the early birds Tuesday.
"What I like about the show is that it lets people see what it takes to grow food," Bryant said. "The equipment is real expensive, and it's hard work. Most folks don't think about that. It takes dedication to be a farmer."
Exhibitor Sam Knowles works for Indiana Spray Center in Markle. The company is a John Deere dealership that sells agricultural sprayers used to distribute fertilizer on fields.
Some of the machinery stands taller than a one-story house and costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"Yeah, farmers come up and ask how much," said Knowles, adding that sprayers can cost well over $350,000. "They like to see for themselves the different pieces of equipment they might be looking at getting."
Knowles said Hoosier ag companies mark their calendars to get ready for the farm show and so do their little ones.
"Kids are the best when they come by here," he said. "They can't believe how big everything is. It's great to see their eyes."
And how do vendors get the wheels on those hulking pieces of equipment so shiny?
"Armor All and lots of elbow grease," Knowles said of the vehicle luster product.
Early Tuesday, the atmosphere at the Coliseum was a quiet hush as vendors laid out company brochures, pens, candy and other giveaways at their booths. By the afternoon, though, the hush gave way to a constant buzz of people shuffling across the stadium's floors.
"Things are going well," said Fred Cline, who organizes the Fort Wayne Farm Show, run by Tradexpos Inc., of Austin, Minn. He said the Summit City is his biggest show. Tradexpos also has exhibitions in Kansas and Minnesota.
"I'm always a little nervous in the morning when we're just getting started," Cline said, "but by the afternoon, attendance is a steady flow."