BOONE, Iowa (WAND) - The 2020 Farm Progress Show has been canceled.
The website for Farm Progress made the announcement Monday, with organizers saying the decision came because of "rapidly changing conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic." This year's Farm Progress Show was scheduled to take place in Boone, Iowa from September 1st-3rd.
"It's heartbreaking for all of us," organizer Matt Jungmann told WAND. "I've seen co-workers in tears in the last 10 days, because we just pour everything we have into this."
Organizers initially planned to have this year's event with physical distancing requirements and health and safety changes. The situation then completely shifted, forcing a different plan of action.
Jungmann said over half the United States saw a "significant spike" in new COVID-19 cases days after officials made a commitment to hold the event. This, along with the fact that a multi-generational audience travels to the Farm Progress Show from around the country and around the world each year, led organizers to reconsider having the Farm Progress Show at all.
"We laid our cards on the table a couple weeks ago, and said we were gonna move forward with the event," Jungmann said. "And our volunteers, and our exhibitors, and a number of different factions of the people that it takes to have a good event stepped forward and expressed their concerns...
Seeing what we saw happen in Florida, Texas, and Arizona, is probably the one that really spurred us."
Farm Progress leaders said a virtual experience, which was already planned as a live event extension, will still happen. While it won't give growers the same "tire kicking experience of the in-person show," Jungmann said it will provide a "robust and dynamic digital experience."
"It's a blank slate and a 200-400 acre playground for us to run autonomous machines, get up and close, mount cameras inside combines," Jungmann said. "We all intend to put our very best foot forward and come with the best virtual event that a farmer could hope to see."
More details on the virtual experience are expected to be released in the coming weeks.
The Farm Progress Show happens in Decatur every other year, and is scheduled to return in 2021.