PITTSBURG — After 36 years at a rural location south of town, the Four State Farm Show is coming to the Robert W. Plaster Center at Pittsburg State University this year.
The change of venue was announced Tuesday at a press conference at the Plaster Center featuring several speakers, including Kansas Secretary of Commerce David Toland.
“On behalf of Gov. Kelly, we are absolutely thrilled that the Four State Farm Show will remain in the state of Kansas,” Toland said.
“We think this is a tremendous opportunity to amplify what’s great about this event, the opportunity it brings to shine light on the state’s ag sector and the many suppliers and businesses that support that sector, and there is no better venue than the Plaster Center here at Pittsburg State.”
The 2020 Four State Farm Show — an event that typically draws tens of thousands of visitors and has an economic impact of over $1 million — will take place May 29 through May 31.
“Because of the investment from the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau along with investment from the City of Pittsburg, we were able to secure all the capital improvements that were necessary,” said Shawn Naccarato, chief strategy officer at PSU, who introduced the speakers at Tuesday’s press conference.
Naccarato added that improvements at the Plaster Center will not only benefit the Four State Farm Show but will benefit the university in hosting other kinds of trade shows and events.
“To say that the Four State Farm Show has a significant economic impact on our community would be an understatement,” said Devin Gorman, Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director. “When you talk about 20,000 people coming to a show, hundreds of exhibitors, it’s been a tremendous event for us to host for the past 36 years (...) but to have it actually move into Pittsburg, into Crawford County on the campus of Pittsburg State University is really exciting for us.”
Though Pittsburg has long been the largest city closest to the site of the farm show, until this year the location of the show was just over the county line in Cherokee County.
“When [PSU President] Dr. [Steve] Scott asked the newly-hired City Manager Daron Hall for millions of dollars to help build this really state-of-the-art indoor track facility, we all knew there were risks on both sides,” said Pittsburg Deputy City Manager Jay Byers, another speaker at the press conference Tuesday. Seven years later, Byers said, “the Plaster Center has become one of the most valuable resources in the City of Pittsburg.”
Lance Markley, coordinator of the Four State Farm Show and Farm Talk newspaper publisher, also spoke at the press conference.
“When word got out that we were seeking a new farm show venue, we were contacted by eight different locations in three different states to try to bring the show to them,” Markley said, adding that Gorman was determined to keep the show in the area and instrumental in introducing him to PSU leadership. “Numerous meetings brought us to where we are today.”
Although the Four State Farm Show has a long history of working with organizations in Pittsburg, Markley said, a major reason to move the event was the unpredictability of the weather at the time of year when the annual show is held.
“While this move doesn’t alleviate weather concerns,” Markley said, “it does offer more favorable options if inclement weather occurs.”