The following information is bonus material from Top Producer. It corresponds with the article "A Global Melting Pot” by Charlene Finck. You can find the article on page 30 in the January 2010 issue.
Cameron and Nicole Carstensen of Almira, Wash., were one set of winners of an all-expense paid trip to Agritechnica, courtesy of Farm Journal and Top Producer and DLG (German Agricultural Society).
Nov. 10 - Day 1
We left the Spokane airport in the morning and started on the first leg of our trip. Our plane arrived late, so we rushed over to the international terminal of the Seattle airport just in time to board. Once we caught our breath, we settled in for our 11 hour flight to Amsterdam. Strangely enough, friends of ours were on the same flight on their way to the Ukraine, so we had wonderful company for the long flight. Several hours (and meals!) later, we arrived in Amsterdam. Even though it was nighttime back at home, it was already morning in Europe with the time change!
Nov. 11 - Day 2
We made it through customs and went to our next gate to wait for our final flight from Amsterdam to Hannover. We didn't sleep on any of our first two flights, so it was about this point that the jet lag really started to sink in. A couple hours later, we finally boarded. After a quick flight to Hannover, we were finally there! We grabbed our bags and walked over to our hotel, which was right across the street from the airport. We were surprised to find a beautiful floral arrangement and a couple of bottles of wine waiting for us from Annette, our German contact for the trip. A few minutes later, the hotel staff dropped off a plate of fresh fruit. We were definitely feeling spoiled!
We made our way back to the airport to catch the shuttle over to Agritechnica. When we got there, we were immediately overwhelmed with the size of the show. We made our way to the international visitors' lounge to introduce ourselves to Annette. It took us almost 30 minutes to get there. After a few weeks of e-mailing back and forth, it was nice to finally meet her. We talked for a while before starting to make our way over to another building to meet with Charlene Finck with Farm Journal magazine. Still being a little overwhelmed at this point, we were mainly trying to take it all in. After a couple hours of browsing, we had just enough time to grab a quick snack. At a little snack stand, we grabbed some German French fries and a bratwurst, our first taste of some authentic German food. We met with Charlene, and she gave us some really great information on the show and things to check out. After a quick interview, we said our goodbyes. Having been awake for over 24 hours at this point, we decided to head back to the hotel. Almost as soon as we were back in the hotel at about 6 PM, we were asleep. We were surprised to hear a knock on the door an hour later. My wife opened the door to discover two members of the hotel staff asking us if we wanted the turn down service. We politely informed them it wouldn't be necessary!
Nov. 12 - Day 3
After 14 hours of sleep, we awoke feeling a little more well rested. We definitely weren't over the jet lag, yet, but at least we could function! We enjoyed a fabulous breakfast at the hotel before heading back to the show. On the shuttle ride over, we sat next to an Italian businessman who worked for a construction machinery company. He was heading to the show for some business meetings with several of their distributors. He was the first one we met, but we saw many people who were at the show for meetings, not really to browse the many exhibits. Once we arrived at the show, we decided to be methodical and see the show building by building. Most of the buildings were organized by type of product, but a few of them housed the displays of the major farming companies. We spent most of the day looking at these displays, including familiar companies like John Deere, and many European brands like CLAAS. It was especially neat to see the Case IH exhibit, since that is the majority of the equipment we own. These displays held all of their latest machines and implements. Since European farms are, on average, much smaller than ours, it was interesting to see the range in size of some of the equipment. We also saw the building that showcased research being done by European universities.
In the evening, we went to one of the Young Farmers' events, a session where they had a panel of young farmers from around the world. This was probably one of our favorite parts of the trip. There were farmers from Germany, Russia, Spain, Canada, the USA, and New Zealand. Each farmer talked about the challenges they were facing and how they planned to make their farm profitable over the long term. After the session, the entire auditorium headed over to the Young Farmers' party. It was definitely different than we were expecting! The party site was absolutely huge, with plenty to drink and lots of music. We were probably the first to leave as there was still a line to get in to the party when we left.
Nov. 13 - Day 4
By Friday, we felt like we were already regulars at the show. We moved past some of the earlier buildings, and started to move on toward the more specialized ones. We spent the morning looking at sprayers and cultivators. I talked to a Russian farmer at one of the booths for almost an hour about his tillage practices. In the afternoon, we moved on to the forestry building. We didn't think we'd have much to see there, but we saw some very interesting heaters that could run off of wood chips or even dried grain. We were starting to realize that there was no end to what you could see. We met many after-market part dealers. This was especially interesting since we are always trying to find a way to lower our part costs. We saw displays dedicated to computer chips and other electronic components that support the equipment. We even saw a huge section dedicated to farm toys. One of the coolest things we saw was a prototype of a machine that looked like a hand. In theory, it could connect to equipment in place of a steering wheel and would mimic your movements. We met up with Annette one last time for an interview. We had decided to stay after the show to do some additional sight-seeing, and she was actually able to get in touch with our German relatives over the phone during our interview time and arrange a day and time for us to meet them. Our relatives don't speak much English, so we were very glad to have her help! About this point, it was time for dinner. After a few days of fair food, we were hoping to try something different. It turns out they had a typical Bavarian restaurant right at the show. We went and sat at the long bench style seating and enjoyed a German polka band while being served by waiters in traditional Bavarian attire. It was a fun and memorable meal and probably the closest to Oktoberfest we were going to get!
Nov. 14 - Day 5
The days seemed to fly by, and it was hard to believe it was already the last day of the show. When we arrived at the show on Saturday morning, we were shocked at how many people there were! It was probably due in part to the show ending and in part to it being the weekend, but the place was absolutely packed. We headed over to a couple of the buildings that we hadn't seen, yet. We spent most of the time in the tractor building. Probably the most unique tractor that we saw was one with a rotating cab.
Later in the afternoon, we left the show for good. After four days, we knew there was still more to see. We felt like we could have stayed a couple more days and still not seen it all! We decided to spend a couple of hours touring the host city and headed to downtown Hannover. We did a neat walking tour and saw many historical sites.
Nov. 15 - Day 6
And just like that, the farm show was over. However, lucky for us, our trip wasn't quite finished. Instead of heading home, we were off to explore Germany for a few more days. We ended up meeting some of my German relatives, saw some of the sites, and had a great time driving all over Germany. Both the farm show and the country were wonderful. We hope to visit again someday