Thousands of farmers, business leaders, and even President Bush will converge on central Iowa this week as the "Super Bowl of Agriculture" gets underway.
Organizers say the 2004 Farm Progress Show, which begins Tuesday, will feature harvesting demonstrations, new products, and the latest in farm technology.
This year's show, the 51st, has an extra dimension - a campaign appearance on Tuesday by President Bush.
"We're flattered that the President is coming to our show," said Don Tourte, director of national business development for Farm Progress Cos., which has sponsored the show since its beginning.
Bush's visit will be the first by a sitting president since his father, George H.W. Bush, attended the 1992 show, Tourte said.
In all, an estimated 300,000 people will visit the show site just off Interstate 35 between Ames and Des Moines during its three-day run, said Doug Fricke, sales manager for the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The event will inject $10 million to $15 million into the central Iowa economy, Fricke said, based on average expenses by travelers for gas, lodging, meals, rental cars and other expenses.
The show's economic impact is even greater if the expenditures of several thousand exhibitors are included, he added.
This year's show will be about a month earlier than previous shows to make it easier for farmers to attend. Fifty years of improvements in crop genetics has meant an earlier start for harvest, Tourte said.
When the shows were held in late September, they often conflicted with harvest time, making it difficult for farmers to travel to the show.
Matt Jungmann, an Adel native who is national shows manager for Farm Progress Cos., the show's organizer, said moving the show up a month meant that earlier-maturing crop varieties had to be planted for the harvest demonstrations.
The 300 acres of corn that will be used for three days of harvesting demonstrations is a little behind in its development because of this summer's cool weather, Jungmann said, but the corn will be ready in time for the show.
There are 120 varieties of corn and soybeans that have been planted in demonstration plots for side-by-side comparisons.
The harvesting demonstrations are an important part of the show because farmers can watch farm machinery operating in real-world conditions. For that reason, many farm equipment manufacturers use the Farm Progress Show to roll out their new equipment.
The same four farm families are hosting the show this year as they have in previous three times it has been held near Alleman.
Host farmers Harold and Sue Lande are building a 2,300-square-foot home using energy-efficient technologies. The house is about two miles north of the show site and will be open during the show. Shuttles will take visitors from the exhibit field to the house.