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Farmers check out show but carefully

VALLEY CITY, N.D. Arvid Winkler saw a lot of farm equipment at the 70th annual North Dakota Winter Show. But the Valley City farmer wasn't in much of a buying mood. "Well, it's true (crop) prices are pretty good. But our fuel and fertilizer costs...

VALLEY CITY, N.D. Arvid Winkler saw a lot of farm equipment at the 70th annual North Dakota Winter Show.

But the Valley City farmer wasn't in much of a buying mood.

"Well, it's true (crop) prices are pretty good. But our fuel and fertilizer costs are the highest they've ever been. So you still need to be careful in what you buy," he said.

Winkler is among the estimated 60,000 to 70,000 people who will attend the ag-themed winter show, which began Tuesday and ends Sunday.

About 6,000 people attended Tuesday, said Mike Sauer, a winter show official.

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Snowfall early this week shouldn't have much affect on attendance, he said.

"We're pretty hardy up here. As long as the visibility is good, people are going to come," said Sauer, a Valley City farm kid who regularly participated in the winter show as a child.

Traditionally, the winter show has had a heavy agriculture focus.

The state's declining rural population North Dakota lost about 38,000 rural residents from 1990 to 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture caused the show to add events to appeal to urban residents, too.

"We want to maintain the agricultural heart of our show, but also to attract people who aren't farmers," Sauer said.

Rural Glyndon, Minn., residents Mary and Darrel DeJong, who came to the show Wednesday with their daughter's two young foster children, were pleased with what it offered.

"There's a lot here to see and do," Mary DeJong said.

Agriculture remains the winter show's core.

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The show allows ag businesspeople like Dalen Grieger, of Grieger Sales and Service in Buffalo, and Curt Marshall, manager of Ever Green Cooperative in Tower City, to pitch their wares and expertise directly to farmers.

Farmers are especially interested in corn, the price of which has risen 75 percent or more in the past year, said Grieger, a crop consultant and seed salesman.

Rising crop prices bode well for agriculture's immediate future, even with high input costs, Marshall said.

"There's a lot of reason for optimism," he said.

Forum Communications Co. owns The Forum and Herald.

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