Volunteers make it happen
By Russ Edem 530News –
There was a lot to do this week at the Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo, but this show could not have been possible without the hard work of all some 300 volunteers.
“The volunteers play such an important part of the show,” volunteer coordinator Jan Westfall said. “Without their support for the show and giving up their time this event would be hard to make happen. They do so much and work very hard.”
Their work began well before the opening ceremony on Wednesday, April 5, and they will be there after it closes today. Friday, April 7, marks the final day of the 2017 show. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Expo Complex west of Great Bend. Admission is free.
The volunteer group is made up of 24 committees that support the show in many different ways. Each committee is responsible for its own part of the show.
These include: parking, porta potties, staging equipment, fuel for equipment, helping venders, concession stands, setting up the floor space, parking lot attendees, beer garden and information booths. This only represents a small amount of the jobs the volunteers do.
“These people do so much, the list is endless,” Westfall said. “The volunteers look forward to it every year and some of the volunteers return each year because it’s so much fun and very exciting.”
Volunteers start about a week before the show getting the buildings ready for the venders and getting big equipment in place. Then the week of the event they help the venders get set up, find their location in the buildings and get everything else ready for the show to open up on Wednesday.
Through the three days of the show, the volunteers help with different tasks to keep the expo going and making sure everyone is having a good time and making sure people are safe and following the rules.
“The camaraderie that these people have is amazing,” Westfall said. “Some of us have been doing the show for many years and we always enjoy sharing our stories about the show and just having a good time and enjoying each other’s company.”
The volunteers’ job is not done when the show is over. They are also responsible for clean up and getting everything back in place and making sure all the venders’ items and equipment is taken with them.
The Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo is all about promoting agricultural technology. More than 700 exhibitors have space inside or on the Expo grounds covering 80 acres. Exhibitors come from 27 states, Canada, Australia and England.
This is the show’s sixth year in Great Bend. In 2016 the event drew over 50,000 visitors, not including venders. Promoter Daren Dale said these attendees spend at least $100 each in Great Bend for an economic impact of $5 million.
“This show is so important, not to just the city of Great Bend but to the businesses and the economy,” Westfall said. “Darren and his family put so much work in getting the show ready throughout the year. We are so lucky to have them. They do such a wonderful job and we could not be happier.”