By Toni W. Riley
Families are busy. Both parents work, each child has his or her own activities and finding time to have “family time” can be a challenge. Ag families are no different and have a bigger challenge when the Ag-career parent works long, sometimes unpredictable hours.
The National Farm Machinery Show from February 11 to 14 in Louisville may be the outing that Ag Families can enjoy together.
The 50-year-old event fills the Kentucky Farm and Exposition Center with nearly 900 different agriculture product dealers. It is the largest indoor Ag equipment show in the United States.
Besides the large number of vendors, the show provides seminars that enable visitors to learn the latest in agriculture production and technology. Another highlight of the show is a nightly tractor pull.
Matthew and Emily Spain and their three sons, Mason, 8, Isaiah, 4, and Cooper, 2, take advantage of the show for a nearby, inexpensive family get-away.
“The boys adore the show,” said Emily, who works as an administrative assistant at the Christian County Cooperative Extension Service.
The three boys love climbing up in the tractors and pretending to be farmers. They also like getting goodie bags filled with “freebies” from the vendors.
“The Ice Cream!” Isaiah says is one of the perks of going to the expo. He’s talking about the very large Ehrler ice cream cones that are available there.
More importantly than just a fun time for the boys, the farm machinery show gives the family a chance to learn more about what Dad, who works for Joseph Sisk, does every day.
“The farm machinery show opens us up to Matthew’s world to see what he finds neat and interesting,” Emily says. “We want Matthew to feel supported in what he does for employment; going to the Farm Machinery Show lets they boys and especially me learn more about what he does.”
Emily finds that her husband is intrigued with all the new equipment, and it’s special for her to see his interest.
For Matthew, it allows him time to teach his family about what he does, like explaining the app on his phone that shows him where the farm tractors are working.
“The technology is what amazes Emily,” he says. “It just blows her mind for someone that doesn’t deal with it every day.”
Emily enjoys the activities that cater more to her role in the family, like the family living center. This area is dedicated to food, nutrition, and health and, one of the boy’s favorite, farm toys.
According to James Johnson, director of the National Farm Machinery Show, the family living center has been a part of the event for the past 40 years. This year, there will be 70 vendors specifically geared to the farm family.
Another benefit of attending the show is to see farm families from across the nation. The show draws 850 exhibitors and hundreds of spectators, according to the show’s website.
“There are families that we only see once a year,” Emily said. “It’s our time to catch up with each other. It’s like a big family reunion.”
Matthew also explains that the vendors are the same from year to year, and he looks forward to seeing them each time, too.
Mason, who is a third-grader at Millbrooke, likes the technology. He proudly notes that he knows more about the equipment than “Momma.”
“It will be hard to bring Cooper this year because he likes fun,” Mason says about his little brother. “He’ll run ahead and check on the next vendor.”
Emily laughs as she admits that Cooper will not want to stay in a stroller and tries to keep up with his big brothers.
When asked what the best part of the farm-filled weekend is, Mason doesn’t hesitate, “It’s spending time with my family.”
If you go
What: National Farm Machinery Show
When: Feb. 11 to 14
Where: Kentucky Exposition Center