SALEM, Ohio — For most people, Farm Science Review is a three-day event. But for Review Manager Chuck Gamble, it’s a 365-day journey.
Gamble heads up the annual show and spends a year or more hammering out the new, the traditional and the occasionally unusual details.
Here, Gamble offers an inside look at what it takes to make sure Farm Science Review hits the mark year after year.
What’s new for 2008?
“We’ve got some pretty unique exhibitors participating. Some are even from nontraditional ag… and that’s something that we tweak very carefully,” Gamble said.
One of these exhibitors is the Ohio State Bar Association.
“They’re there from an educational standpoint so if people have questions in regard to anything with law, they certainly could go to that booth and ask away.”
Fresh Fork Market will be at the Review looking for farmers to contract production with a direct market link to restaurants in the Cleveland area.
And Harmony Agricultural Products in Ohio, or HAPI-Ohio, will be there contracting with farmers to produce food-grade soybeans for customers in Japan.
That’s just a few of the new attractions at this year’s Review. And while it’s important to keep up with modern trends, Gamble said there’s no fear of the Review changing its face.
“We want to maintain the Farm Science Review as an agricultural show,” he said. “That is going to be the case for years to come.”
Why did you change the routine for field demonstrations?
“There’s one thing about a farmer — farmers like to see equipment operating,” Gamble said.
They want to be able to compare the machines and Farm Science Review provides a venue where they can make that comparison right in the field.
“It’s very impractical and not real efficient for them to go from one dealership to another,” Gamble said. “They can come to the Farm Science Review and the smorgasbord is set.”
Gamble said the idea behind the changes is to make the field demonstrations even better.
The morning corn harvest was taken off the schedule to address the needs of the companies that participate.
Other changes were made to improve safety. Gamble said there will be restricted access to fields while equipment is operating. Also, there will not be an equipment parade this year.
“We’re just trying to create a safe situation where equipment isn’t out on the road with our shuttle bus traffic,” Gamble said.
What’s the deal with the Review’s new policy on motorized vehicles?
Review visitors may rent a golf cart on the grounds or bring their own, but Gators, ATVs and other similar vehicles are not permitted this year.
Approved disabled units like electric scooters are allowed on the grounds.
Gamble said there’s been a misconception that all motorized vehicles have been banned from the Review, but that’s not true. Golf carts and approved disabled units are welcome.
The decision to get rid of the Gators and ATVs was based on safety concerns.
“It’s a safety-related issue and we want to maintain the event as a pedestrian event,” Gamble said. “We only want those people that need them (motorized vehicles) to get around the exhibit area to use them.”
How did the streets on the Review grounds get their names?
“Most of the terms are terms pretty well associated with agriculture,” Gamble said.
However, there are some exceptions.
Friday Avenue is named after the first Farm Science Review manager, Dale Friday. And Kottman Street is named after Roy Kottman, the former dean of the College of Agriculture at Ohio State University.
New for this year, Chemical Avenue has been changed to Conservation Avenue. Gamble said the new name is fitting because the Review has always embraced conservation.
And if you’re at the Review, be sure to take a minute to look down. There’s about 2,400 feet, or almost half mile, of new asphalt made from recycled tires.
You’ll find this all-new asphalt at the west end of Land Avenue and Soybean Avenue and the east end of Land Avenue. There’s also an overlay made from the same material on Beef Street from Friday Avenue to Soybean Avenue.
How did you become the manager of Farm Science Review?
“I’ve got a passion for ag. My background has been perfect for farm show management,” Gamble said.
That background includes serving on the show’s student crew and working as the ag and natural resource extension agent in Logan County.
In 1995, Gamble became the Review’s assistant manager and stepped up to the head position in 2004.
People often mistake Gamble’s job as a “three-days-a-year” position. While the Review itself is three days, it takes a lot longer than that to make it happen.
“How many people work in an occupation where all year long you plan for this one period of time and then you basically start it all over again?” Gamble said.
“And the starting all over again — we overlap. We’re already planning for 2009.”
What happens at the Review grounds during the rest of the year?
“We are getting a lot more use out of the Molly Caren ag center throughout the year,” Gamble said.
“A lot of equipment companies that are exhibitors are using our grounds for training. Whether its customer training or employee training, there’s quite a bit of that that goes on.”
The center also hosts events like the Great Lakes Manure Handling Expo, which took place in July.
“We will continue to look for partners, users of the facility, because that’s too important of a resource not to utilize it more often,” Gamble said.