40 Years of Agriculture Mechanization

Macomb, IL – The Western Illinois University Ag Mech Club marked a milestone this year. It celebrated the 40th anniversary of its annual Farm Expo.

Ed Breece was an instructor at WIU when he came up with the idea for the show. He says it was created for students to display the latest in farm technology while also giving them an opportunity to meet prospective employers.

Breece says there were 28 exhibitors the first year. They used the east end of Western Hall. It quickly grew to fill the building within a few years. This year the Farm Expo drew more than 100 exhibitors. Some machinery was displayed outside.

"Our goal was to it fill Western Hall, and it has," says Breece.

In fact, it's grown into the largest student-run farm expo in the United States.

While Breece is recognized as the person who came up with the idea for the farm expo, he's too modest to accept full credit.

"I had a lot of help," says Breece. "There were a number of fantastic students and a couple other advisors. It wasn't just me."

He says the show gives students a chance to be involved in a large project.

"It's kind of self-motivating among the students. Each year they try to do better than the year previous," says Breece. "I learned to let them take the reigns and go with it."

Breece retired from WIU in 1996. He still lives in Macomb and still comes to the Ag-Mech Show every year.

"It's always great to come back and see former students. I can hardly walk down the aisle without running into at least one or two," says Breece.

This year's expo showcased emerging agricultural technology, farm toys, and crop supplies, among other things.

The keynote speaker was Darren Frye, CEO of Water Street Solutions in Peoria. He talked about maximizing profits in farming operations.

Frye also encouraged audience members to embrace and force change. He said it takes knowledge and a plan to implement change.

You can listen to Frye's entire speech by clicking on the audio button.