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Petersons named hosts for Farm Tech Days

Roger Peterson explained that, when he heard Pierce County was awarded the 2010 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days (WFTD), he got to thinking.

"It would be quite an honor to host it," he said. "It's a great deal that would bring the community together.

"So we decided to try it."

That enthusiasm, along with other factors, led them to be named the host family for WFTD when it comes to Pierce County July 20-22, 2010, as announced Monday morning.

Peterson lives less than two miles outside of River Falls on Hwy. 29 with his wife of 26 years, Beverly, and the couple's five children, Brad, age 24, Michelle, 22, Tracy, 21, Brenda, 16, and Kevin, 14. He presently owns or leases nearly 2,100 acres of land.

"The kids help as much as they can," said Roger, who mentioned they only found out last week they're the winning bid. "They enjoy the farming life. If they didn't, I don't think we would have gone after this."

Roger, who said he never attended WFTD until this year's edition in Green County, had his career occupation set early in life, as in his senior year at River Falls High School in 1973 he bought the cows from his dad LeRoy's farm. Currently, he has about 65 milking cows and around 700-800 head of cattle.

Chair of the 2010 Executive Committee, Mel Pittman, also a county board supervisor, stated the criteria the committee was looking for in picking a site: 1) Enthusiasm and cooperation from host family; 2) At least 450 contiguous acres (owned or leased) of reasonably level well-drained soils; 3) Storage and capacity for diverse forages harvested during the show; and 4) Road infrastructure.

"They had the complete package for what we needed," said Pittman, who stated they had three applicants submitting bids.

For the four steps, the enthusiasm was already explained and the acreage was already stated. Mark Biel from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service said the Petersons' land has some of the best soils in the county, including the planned area for tent city, which will be the main location for commercial exhibitors.

Pittman added the Petersons will need to change their crops for WFTD, which Roger said wouldn't be a problem, as requirements call for 250 acres of alfalfa, 80 for parking for tent city and 60 for hay ground. Finally, because the Petersons are located off of Hwy. 29, infrastructure will be taken care of. In addition, with the Petersons located less than 10 miles from UW-River Falls, it was said during the announcement the university will play a huge role, especially its new Dairy Teaching Learning Center.

"It's a plus for the university and a plus for the area at large," said Jim Harsdorf, a member of the executive committee.

Greg Andrews, executive secretary, was asked by audience members what's in it for the county. Andrews explained the county board had to spend $45,000, including $20,000 up front money which will be returned, and $25,000 for a marketing coordinator.

However, he believes the economic development Pierce County will get from WFTD will make up for it, as it's estimated nearly 60,000 people will visit for WFTD.

"It is and will be a rewarding journey to showcase Pierce County agriculture," Pittman added.

As for what's next, Andrews said the formation and development of 21 committees, including such key ones as media and tent city, is on tap. Pittman also stressed the importance of volunteers as Green County, the 2007 site, had 1,600.

"It's going to take an effort from in and out of the county," he said.

Wisconsin Farm Technology Days is billed as "the largest outdoor show moving from county to county in North America." Farm Technology Days, Inc., a non-profit organization, has held the event since 1954. The 2008 and 2009 events are scheduled for Brown and Dodge counties, respectively.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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