Farm Progress confirmed both shows have been cancelled due to changing conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, it was said the cancellations are "in the best interest of our visitors, exhibitors, partners and staff."
Show management had confirmed earlier the two shows would be operated differently with physical distancing a requirement, along with other health and safety changes to the events.
"We have been working with officials in Iowa and Nebraska for our shows, and we appreciate the support they expressed for us to hold the events," Don Tourte, senior vice president, Farm Progress, says. "They are critical partners to us, and we are all disappointed to not host the events this year, but feel confident that this is the right decision for our community.”
A key factor in the cancellations was the size and scope of the attending demographics the shows attract.
"Within days of our commitment to hold both farm shows, more than half the United States saw a significant spike in new cases of COVID-19. We have a multi-generational audience that travels from all across the country and around the world to attend the shows and based on that we felt it better to reconsider the traditional show for 2020 to prioritize the safety of all. Our community’s safety is our priority, always,” said Matt Jungmann, events manager, Farm Progress.
"Within the next two weeks tents and other work would be underway on site. We had to make a decision based on the current landscape so that our exhibitors and suppliers wouldn’t potentially waste valuable time and resources,” said Jungmann. “While we are hopeful that case numbers throughout the country will decrease soon, we felt compelled to make a proactive decision on our community’s behalf, given the information we have today.”
A virtual experience was already being planned as an extension to the live event. Jungmann explains that while a virtual event won't give growers the true "tire kicking" experience of being at the show, the events team is gearing up to deliver a robust and dynamic digital experience.
"Market factors are changing fast, and we'll have more information in the coming weeks about how our virtual experience will be expanded," Jungmann says. "We have 400 acres of corn at two sites that have to be harvested. Ground that must be tilled. We're looking at all of our options to ensure we keep our community connected and engaged."