Latest agri-business advances on display
BY MIKE WARREN
LOYAL – The heart of Wisconsin’s dairy country took center stage in the agricultural community, as Clark County played host to this year’s Farm Technology Days, July 12-14. The hosts for this year’s show were Roehl Acres Farm & Rustic Occasions southwest of Loyal, in central Clark County.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Velora Roehl, matriarch of the host family, following opening ceremonies July 12. “It’s fun to just see everybody enjoy the day.” Velora added the family has been hearing about hosting the three-day, mid-summer show for many years. “When he (Dennis Roehl) was 14 years old, he went with his dad to a Farm Technology Days (then Farm Progress Days), and he looked it all over and said, ‘Dad, someday I want to do this’. He said, ‘We can do this’, and here we are.”
The host farm truly meets with this year’s theme for the show – “Where Tradition and Technology Meet”. The Roehl farm, started in 1967, now features robotic milkers, installed in mid-May just in time for Farm Tech Days.
“Obviously we have a lot to showcase here in Wisconsin,” Gov. Tony Evers told Hub City Times following day-one opening ceremonies for the 68th annual show. “We like to show it off to other people, but also it just amps up the ingenuity and the resilience of the agriculture industry.”
Evers said Farm Technology Days also brings people from different backgrounds together, which eventually opens new markets for Wisconsin’s agricultural products. “It is looking for ways to export our ag products across the world,” he said.
Taylor Schaefer was not only new to the role of Wisconsin’s “Alice in Dairyland”, but she also took in her very first Farm Technology Days. She is no stranger, however, to agriculture. “I grew up on my parents’ beef and crop farm,” said the Franksville (Racine County) native, during a hectic day one of the show. “I think from there is really where my passion for agriculture started,” she added. Schaefer felt right at home at Farm Tech Days. “I think that the show really showcases the diversity of Wisconsin agriculture. With technology and all the different products that our producers make, it really highlights diversity and how many different areas you can go in in agriculture,” she said.
The “Alice in Dairyland” program falls under the state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, led by Secretary Randy Romanski. The Wood County (Wisconsin Rapids) native was nostalgic when he spoke about Farm Technology Days, during the show’s opening ceremonies July 12. “Farm Technology Days is about the future, but it’s also a way to connect us to our past,” Romanski said. “Many of you may remember first coming to Farm Technology Days when you were a kid with your parents, and maybe you kicked the tires on some equipment. But it’s a way to connect our past to our present,” he said. “And there’s a great deal of history right here in Clark County,” added Romanski. “The agricultural foundation of Clark County is strong, and that’s part of its history. It’s also part of its future, and that’s something for all of us to look forward to.”
The Dennis and Suzie Roehl family hosted the three-day show, along with Doug and Kim Roehl and family, who own the nearby Rustic Occasions, a barn built in the early 1900’s that was converted in recent years to an event barn, for things like weddings, family reunions and other social gatherings.
As usual, Farm Technology Days featured the latest in farm and dairy equipment and technology, safety and field demonstrations, a large area where kids could learn how their food is made and hundreds of vendors representing food, farm and dairy producers. Something unique to Clark County, the show also featured Loyal’s Meyer family and their 10-horse Belgian pyramid hitch, along with daily draft horse pulling demonstrations. The Colby Police Department’s K-9 unit demonstrations drew big crowds to the indoor youth tent stage. There was also a show within a show. Farm Tech Fest featured live concerts July 13 by Joe Nichols, Sawyer Brown and Madison County.