In its 13th year, the North American Manure Expo – presented by the Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Extension Nutrient Management Team – is a two-day event filled with educational seminars and demonstrations featuring the latest in manure and nutrient handling. The annual expo itself rotates across the Midwest and mid-Plains states as well as Canada. This year, it returns to Pennsylvania and centers in Franklin County.

Professional manure handlers, applicators and brokers, as well as many other agricultural professionals, are expected at record numbers for the traveling show. According to event organizers, the origins of the show began in August 2001. The University of Wisconsin hosted a show in Prairie du Sac providing side-by-side comparisons of agitation and application equipment. The next year, more applicators from other states inquired about another expo. As a result, word spread about the event and attendance grew larger year after year.

According to event co-chair Jennifer Bratthauar of the Franklin County Conservation District, along with other co-chair Robb Meinen of the Penn State Extension, Chambersburg was an ideal location.

“Franklin County does not get a ton of credit for farming and agriculture,” Bratthauar said about the second largest producer in dairy and cattle. “When people think of farming in Pennsylvania, they’re thinking Lancaster or even York with many of the small farms there.”

Bratthauar said that she and Meinen approached local farm Lesher’s Poultry as the location of the expo. The farmer’s field will serve as a “strategic placement of a temporary mini-manure city.”

“We basically have to start everything from scratch,” she said. “We’ll have tents set up, food vendors and demonstrations of equipment – both solid and liquid – plus educational sessions during the day.”

The expo, unlike the typical trade show, will primarily take place outside in an open area near the interstate in public view. The first day of the expo will consist of a series of daylong tour programs including a visit to area dairy farms, poultry operations and equine stables. The second day is the actual exposition where exhibitors will display their products and services to the many attendees expected to attend.

“After the first day, vendors spend the day trying to make sales, just like a regular trade show,” Bratthauar said.

To hold an event like this that changes locations every year, the majority of the planning falls in the hands of the local community. Bratthauar said the planning committee of nearly 30 local people lent their expertise and advice about the expo, such as the use of tractors and manure equipment for demonstration.

“You need the local people to work out the logistics of the event to help us,” she said. “One thing that was pleasantly surprising was how much local support we have from the agriculture industry, the equipment dealers and farmers.”

Bratthauar admitted that some of the locals couldn’t help themselves to apply a bit of humor given the subject matter.

“When we contact the sheriff’s department about traffic and other local businesses, the first thing they’d say was, ‘This is an expo for what!?'” she recalled. However, the joke is not lost upon event organizers either. During the show, T-shirts will be created with the expo’s slogan, “Manure than you can handle!” on the front, and a list of the top 10 rejected manure expo slogans on the back.

Overall, Bratthauar said that she and Meinen are proud to have Chambersburg host the manure expo.

“Some might think it odd for the (Franklin County) Conservation District to be involved, but not really,” she said. “We do a lot of work with manure haulers. Nutrient management is right down our alley.”

Cover Photo by RealRedHair/istock