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Farmfest in Redwood County reportedly sold

Roger Dale, left, and Gene Stengel, of the Yellow Medicine County Farm Bureau, grill pork chops Aug. 9, 2012, for those attending Farmfest. Farmfest has reportedly been sold to the American Farm Bureau. Forum News Service file photo by Don Davis

The farm shows Farmfest, held annually southeast of Redwood Falls, Minn., and Dakotafest, held annually southeast of Mitchell S.D., have reportedly been purchased by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The Cygnus Business Media agriculture group has sold its’ IDEAg group, which operates these shows, according to reports by Folio Magazine, a trade publication, and EXPO, a trade show web site.

Farmfest opens its 2013 three-day run Tuesday on the Gilfillan Estate in Redwood County and Dakotafest begins its three-day show Aug. 20 on the Schlasffman Farm southeast of Mitchell..

The IDEAg group includes Farmfest, Dakotafest, the Northern Illinois Farm Show in DeKalb, Ill., the Amarillo (Texas) Farm and Ranch Show and two ag publications, Feed & Grain and Farm Forum.

Under the deal, the IDEAg group will become a subsidiary division of the American Farm Bureau. There reportedly will be no change in show management.

Farm Bureau Communications Director Mace Thornton declined Thursday to comment when contacted by the Mitchell (S.D.) Daily Republic. He told the Forum Communications newspaper that further information will be released Monday.

Thorton said Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman will be a featured speaker at Dakotafest later this month.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Farm Bureau is agriculture’s largest nonprofit trade group and was established in 1920. The farm group has state affiliate bureaus across the country.

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation is a member of the American Farm Bureau and has more than 21,000 members and 78 organized county chapters.

The South Dakota Farm Bureau has 13,000 members. South Dakota Farm Bureau Executive Director declined comment Thursday when contacted by the Daily Republic.

Cygnus announced in February that it had put the IDEAg group up for sale. The sale was reportedly arranged by Corporate Solutions, an acquisitions advisory firm.

The first Farmfest was held in 1972 on the Bert Hanson farm near Vernon Center. The event also hosted the World Plowing Championship for the first time in the United States.

The second Farmfest was held on the Les Lloyd farm west of Lake Crystal. It was promoted as an agricultural festival during America’s bicentennial celebration. The event ran into financial struggles due to bad weather conditions and filed bankruptcy.

Promoter Marlyn Buss purchased the Farmfest name in 1977 and produced the next Farmfest as an ag trade show in 1982. He held the show for eight years on his father’s farm east of Lake Crystal and then for four years at an Austin location.

In 1994, Buss moved Farmfest to the Gilfillan Estate in Redwood County, where it has been held every August since.

The Dakotafest trade show has been held for 17 years.

Buss sold Farmfest and Dakotafest in 1997 to Cygnus Farm Shows.

The Gilfillan Estate was willed to the Redwood County Historical Society in memory of Charles Oswin Gilfillan. His father, Charles Duncan Gilfillan, purchased 13,000 acres in Redwood County and raised livestock for export to Great Britain.

Kelly Boldan

Kelly Boldan has been the editor of the West Central Tribune of Willmar, since joining the newspaper in October 2001. He has previously worked as the editor at the Bemidji Pioneer, also part of Forum Communications Co., and other daily newspapers, online Web sites, and weekly agriculture newspapers in Wisconsin, Texas and Minnesota. You can follow via Twitter at @KellyBoldanWCT or read about the Tribune's newsroom blog at: or the Tribune's blog at:

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