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History - Historical Highlights of the Shows

(Note: If any reader feels an important highlight is missing please respond to Ron Schuler, General Manager of WFTD, rschuler@wisc.edu).

  • 1952 — Henry Ahlgren, chair of the Farm and Home Week Committee, envisioned a larger off-campus (UW-Madison) event to where both exhibitors and farmers participate and learn about the latest technologies.
  • 1953 — National and State Plowing contest was held near Augusta, WI.
  • 1954 — First scheduled show (two days), called Farm Progress Days, in Waupaca County had a lower than expected attendance (15,000) due to heavy rains. Articles of incorporation were approved June 28, 1954.
  • 1955 — Show returned to Waupaca County in the fall and included a plowing contest and competition among the forage equipment manufacturers.
  • 1956 — Show was held in Jefferson County during the fall, which included a plowing contest and featured corn fertilizer, deep tillage, weed control, corn varieties, and strip grazing.
  • 1957 — A three year rotation: summer (forage), late summer (forage and small grains), fall (corn and tillage) was established.
  • 1958 — The first scheduled three-day show was held in Lafayette County. Previously, the shows were two days.
  • 1961 — An estimated 250, 000 people attended the 1961 show in Rock County.
  • 1965 — Eighteen forage choppers were demonstrated during the show in Manitowoc County.
  • 1971 — The dates for the early summer show, when first crop forage was harvested, were changed to later in summer to harvest second crop forage.
  • 1974 — Large round balers were demonstrated for the first time.
  • 1978 — For the 25th year, the show returned to Waupaca County.
  • 1980 — Established a two year rotation: summer (forage) and fall (corn and tillage).
  • 1987 — The first show with a youth tent.
  • 1988 — Three year rotation: 2 summer (forage), 1 fall (corn and tillage) was established.
  • 1994 — The first commemorative toy tractors were sold during the Columbia County show, International 1568.
  • 1996 — The first ride and drive event was held at this Marathon County show.
  • 2001 — Board of Directors approved name change from Wisconsin Farm Progress Days to Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.
  • 2003 — First show using new name — Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.
  • 2003 — Fifty year celebration occurred in Waupaca County which was the county for the first two shows. The only county to host four shows.
  • 2007 — Last fall show was held in Green County.
  • 2008 — All summer shows (July) were established.