Over three decades after its last appearance in Dodge City, the 3i Show returned to the Queen of the Cowtowns this summer.
Stationed in the newly completed Western State Bank Expo Center on the southern edge of town, leaders of the agribusiness exposition have lauded this year’s successes.
Over the past several decades, the show had rotated between Garden City and Great Bend. However, Western Kansas Manufacturers Association and Ford County announced that upon completion of a planned expo center, the agribusiness expo would call Dodge City its permanent home.
Eddie Estes, CEO and president of WKMA, which organizes the 3i Show, said Monday that moving the show to its new permanent home in Dodge City gave it a much-needed boost.
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Estes said the show boasted almost 900 individual companies. The 90,000-square-foot space at the Western State Bank Expo Center also allowed for 100 more indoor vendors than at either of the previous locations.
In previous studies, the Garden City Chamber of Commerce has estimated the economic impact that the 3i Show has on its communities as somewhere in the area of $2.5 million. While Dodge City doesn’t have any estimates for this year’s show, the director of the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jan Stevens, said that the impact would be significant.
Reportedly, all the hotel rooms in Ford County were booked during the three days of the event. That’s 909 hotel rooms in Dodge City alone. Surrounding cities and counties also saw their hotel rooms fill up and their hospitality industries get a nice injection.
According to numbers supplied by the CVB, hotels in Garden City and Liberal also saw more business, with exhibitors and show guests commuting into Dodge City for the event.
Although Estes didn’t release non-exhibitor attendance numbers, the City of Dodge City put out counters on the visitors entrance and recorded almost 8,000 vehicles entering the venue over the three days of the event.
Ford County Administrator Ed Elam expressed his optimism for future years.
“We think it was a good show,” he said. “Hopefully it will continue to be so. The vendors made some pretty good sales, and that tends to mean they’ll be coming back.”
Highlights of the show included the Budweiser Clydesdales, Kansas Antique Racers, a vintage truck group, and George and LaDonna Brown with their collection of vintage tractors.