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Tents transform the terrain

<i>Steve Dzubay photo</i> The magnitude of Tent City becomes apparent from a knoll looking northwest over the Farm Technology Days show site. Greg Andrews, Pierce County agent and executive secretary for the organizing committee, stands in the foreground. The 200-foot long tent in the upper right will host FleetFarm's displays. An arena will be constructed nearby.

Preparations for the July 20-22 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days outside River Falls shifted to high gear this past week with the arrival of tent-erection crews, contractors constructing display buildings, FarmTech's contracted electrician and portable lighting and generators.

A crew of more than a dozen men from Briggs Tent Co., Eau Claire, arrived with semi-trailers of canvas, poles, ropes and stakes that will transform the majority of 40 acres into a covered display area.

Tents vary in size with the largest, to be occupied by FleetFarm, measuring 40'x 200' feet. More than 800 exhibitors from across the country have committed to the show thus far and more applications were still being received this week.

On Wednesday afternoon, a crew of four men from Morton Buildings, Dodgeville, prepared to set the final pair of roof joists on a 48'x 60'foot model pole shed near the center of the 50-block exhibition area. Construction was expected to take five days, a carpenter said.

Greg Andrews, Pierce County's UW-Extension agricultural agent and executive secretary for the show, said things are unfolding according to plan. Last week's heavy rain and hail essentially skirted the Roger and Bev Peterson acreage, causing widespread crop damage to corn and bean fields just two miles from the show site at Hwy. 29 and County Rd. E.

While the tents are sturdy, Andrews recalled the Brown County's structures incurred some damage from high winds just days before the 2007 show opened and again, during the second day of the event. The third day was actually cancelled because the site was too wet to accommodate foot and vehicle traffic.

Briggs' crew members expect to remain busy setting tents for next three weeks and exhibitors will begin arriving soon to set up booths.

A stockpile of more than 1,000 yards of wood chips will be spread on the various streets and avenues of the show site. Andrews said another 300 yards were to be delivered this week.

Billed as the largest farm exhibition in Wisconsin, Farm Technology Days showcases every aspect of production agriculture and offers entertainment, education and sales opportunities for farm and non-farmers alike.

Admission is $5 per day. Advance sale tickets are available at the Pierce County Extension office in Ellsworth for $4.

The show opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. daily. The site is handicap-accessible.

For more details on the show, visit