At the 2022 Tulsa Farm Show, Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, visited with John Riles with Midwest Farm Shows. Hays and Riles talk about how far the show has come, as Riles’ family began the show 29 years ago.
For the 29th year, the Tulsa Farm Show is being held at Expo Square’s SageNet Center, hosted by Midwest Farm Shows, on December 8-10. Parking and admission to the show are free, and the show is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
The Tulsa Farm Show was started by John Riles’ father, Riles said, and the show has grown significantly since.
“We started out doing kind of row-crop farming shows in the upper Midwest,” Riles said. “The big challenge is getting big equipment and getting a facility that was large enough, big enough doors- you know, you are always limited by the size of the doors and the layout of the facility- and I think my father and one of his associates came down here and got a look at his facility and thought, ‘wow, this is made for what we do.’”
At first, the Expo Square’s SageNet Center, Riles said, was a little daunting at first because of its large size.
“I remember the show took up maybe a third of this upper level, maybe even less than that,” Riles said.
Over the years, Riles said, they have filled up the entire upper level and received great support from the community.
“It has worked out just as they planned,” Riles said.
This year’s show, Riles said, is featuring over 300 exhibitors. Many of which, he added, have been at the show for nearly every year.
Some events at this show that Riles is excited about include horsemanship clinics by Craig Cameron, livestock equipment demonstrations, a daily $1000 show bucks drawing, and more.
In 2020, due to COVID-19, Riles said the Tulsa Farm show was delayed until February, but challenges certainly came into play for exhibitors, especially those from different countries such as Canada.
Some exhibitors during that time period, Riles said, had a space rented, but could not access any equipment to put into their space.
“That affected maybe the last two years,” Riles said. “We are starting to get past that. It is still a bit of a challenge, so you know, our plan is to kind of push back. We have more exhibitors this year than last year.”
Operating shows in several different states, Riles has been able to experience the aftermath, firsthand, of getting back to normal in terms of filling up show capacity after the impacts of COVID-19.
“We did everything we could to push through with our events,” Riles said.
Riles said he is fortunate enough to produce the majority of Midwest Farm Show events in states that have been more progressive in working back to “normal” after the COVID-19 regulations.
“We are blessed to be in Oklahoma and some of the other states that were a little bit more aggressive in trying to keep business and commerce rolling along,” Riles said.