MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) — Farmers and ranchers work hundreds or even thousands of miles apart, but face-to-face connections are vital in the agriculture industry.

Ag producers, consumers and exhibitors from all over are gathering in Mitchell for the three-day farm show. Dakotafest gives them the chance to check out new products, learn where food comes from and get information on a variety of topics.

Face-to-face networking is a foundational part of the agricultural industry. This week Dakotafest attendees are getting the opportunity to build those connections.

“Your name means everything in farming, your connection to the people, to the buyers, to the vendors, that the way farming is and that’s the way it’s always been,” said Joel Koskan, farmer.

“You know after two years of COVID, zoom meeting and everything online, it’s really nice to be able to sit down and talk to somebody and there’s a personal kind of interaction that you have face-to-face that you don’t get online and you don’t get from a website,” said Heather Beaner, farmer and member of the SD Soybean Checkoff.

The event is larger than last year, with nearly 450 exhibitors present.

“This is just a place where you can make those connections, you walk the show and talk to people, understand new technologies, things that have improved over the years,” said Niki Jones, Dakotafest marketing director.

“It gets you excited about it, gives you goals and gives you aspirations, you get to talk to the farmers and discuss what they are doing, how their crops are doing and see how you can do better,” said Koskan.

But, Dakotafest isn’t just for farmers.

“I’ve seen so many people come through and a lot of them have nothing to do with the farm, they got tickets from somebody, and they’re coming through and it’s really fun to talk to people about ‘do you know where your food comes from?’ ‘Do you know what that combine or that piece of equipment is doing in that field next to I-29?’,” said Beaner.

Creating strong connections in the agricultural industry and beyond, while finding ways to improve farms for the future.

“We live in next year country, it’s always about next year, maybe not the best this year but farmers are the eternal optimists or otherwise you never farm,” said Koskan.

Dakotafest is continuing today and tomorrow. Here you can find the complete schedule and get your tickets.