In early January, many farmers in the Mid-Atlantic begin planning their annual trip to the Keystone Farm Show at the York Fairgrounds in York, PA. The timing of the show is ideal for most farmers – prior to crop planting so farmers can look at, compare and purchase equipment during a less busy time of the year.

The Keystone Farm Show is the largest commercial farm equipment and service provider trade show in Pennsylvania, and for most attendees, the show is the first ag-related event of the year. It’s an opportunity for farmers to meet with others in the ag community, but more importantly, to get an in-person look at a wide array of large and small ag equipment and services for the rural community. In addition to seasoned farmers who have been involved with agriculture for many years, the show draws a substantial number of young and beginning farmers.

The farmers’ farm show

Attendees enjoyed the opportunity to look over the farm equipment. Photos by Joan Kark-Wren

Farmers travel from several states, including Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio and New England. Bruce Button, national sales for Lee Newspapers and Trade Shows, estimated about 15,000 attendees visited during this year’s three-day event. Button said that farmers and vendors like the three-day format of the show.

“Exhibitors aren’t wasting their time with people who don’t want to buy anything,” he said. “A lot of vendors said this year’s opening day was the best first day they’ve ever had.”

(L – R) Ian Hitchener and Bartek Konick from SaMasz talk with Woodlake rep Duane Witmer.

More than 400 vendors set up to exhibit at the three-day show. Every building on the site was filled, and the addition of an 84-x-300-foot heated tent helped meet the demand for space.

Button said many vendors with large farm machinery start bringing in equipment at least a week prior to the show. “With a large number of pieces of heavy equipment,” he said, “it’s a matter of logistics to get everyone in and situated prior to the show opening.”

The K.U.L.T. iSelect in-row and inter-row cultivator from K.U.L.T. – Kress Cultivation Solutions drew attention throughout the show.

Products for all sizes and types of farms were on display with knowledgeable representatives to answer questions. While shopping for new farm equipment can involve several weeks of travel as well as valuable time, farmers who attend the Keystone Farm Show know they can see nearly everything available in one place, compare features and talk with dealers.

“Farmers can research equipment and compare prices online or through phone calls,” said Button, “but they prefer seeing equipment and talking with dealers who can answer questions. A lot of large equipment is sold at the show. That’s always nice to know.”

The ability to learn more about equipment and services makes the Keystone Farm Show a great place to visit.

In comparing the 2022 and 2023 shows, Button said vendors were pleased with attendance and sales for both years, noting that attendance was down in 2021 due to the pandemic. “A lot of vendors sold products at a good price,” he said. “Farmers are continuing to look at equipment that can make them more efficient and reduce the cost of labor. Those items are always strong.”

In addition to the comprehensive selection of farm equipment, a variety of educational seminars provided an opportunity for farmers to learn the latest in crop research as well as earn pesticide certification credits. “It’s something farmers have to have,” said Button. “They’re already at the show, so this makes it easy for them.”

Attendees found a wide assortment of equipment to see at the show.

Educational sessions included pesticide resistance management, reading pesticide labels, spray nozzle basics and an update on corn tar spot. Farmers also had the opportunity to bring their own respirator for a respirator fit test to ensure their equipment fits properly for optimum protection.

The Automated Ag Solutions booth was busy as visitors wanted to learn more about the Meggbot T100 and other equipment available for the poultry industry.

Button reported attendees and vendors alike were happy with the show.

“We heard a lot of compliments at the end of the show,” said Button. “People came up to us to thanked us for putting on such a great show.”

Make plans now to attend the 2024 Keystone Farm Show, scheduled for Jan. 9 – 11.

by Sally Colby