EWC brings on the AG and Hemp Expo
Star Expos owner, Darren Dale, greets arriving high schoolers at the Eastern Wyoming College campus Wednesday morning for the Wyoming Farm and Ranch Hemp Expo. Droves of county residents browse among the dozens of booths offered at the EWC Agriculture Building Wednesday morning. Rhett Breedlove/Torrington Telegram
GOSHEN COUNTY – When it comes to agricultural ideas, product and progression, nothing spoke more volumes than Eastern Wyoming College’s Wyoming Farm and Ranch Expo (WFRE) Wednesday morning.
As one would approach the EWC agriculture building, dozens of American flags and banners flew proudly to commemorate Goshen County’s most valued industry.
Food trucks let off the delicious aroma of real Wyoming beef as dozens of Goshen residents entered the facility, all eager to be a part of an amazing two-day event.
With several local business representation, farmers, ranchers, EWC personel as well as local high schools, this event would surely demonstrate the latest essential product and equipment to the local farming industry of Goshen County.
Dozens of business partners and associates of EWC were in attendance. All were hoping to bring more support to the ever-important industry that has benefited the area so much in its history, and hopefully will continue long into the future.
One of the event’s primary organizers and business associates, Darren Dale of Benkelman, Nebraska spoke with The Telegram regarding the current state of agriculture in Wyoming, as well as the future of it in the United States.
Dale noted any successful business venture in agriculture relies on maintaining respectful and trusting relations with peers and associates of the industry, including a local college like EWC.
“Today showcases the college and the Wyoming Hemp Company (WHC),” Dale began. “We are bringing buyers and sellers together. Anytime you have a personal relationship with a vendor, whether it’s needing parts or service, you have their cell and you can get what you need throughout the year to keep everything running. You have the connections that can fix your problems throughout the year.”
Although a resident of Nebraska, as well as the owner of Star Expos in Benkelman, Dale was adamant that ranching, farming and agriculture remains a crucial part of state and national economic prosperity in Wyoming.
Dale added by combining community components such as education, business and awareness, the WFRE has the capacity to benefit Goshen County years into the future.
“The whole event is to showcase the college and to help our vendors sell products and services, and to put them in contact with local producers,” Dale said. “We have speakers and seminars, while we are bringing awareness to the agriculture and hemp industry. We are pushing sole proprietorship, and we need to keep our producers in business. We are losing farms and ranchers by the thousands every day across the U.S. Goshen has some of the best water producing in the world, and we want to keep them viable for generations to come.
“It brings awareness to agriculture as well as attention. If we can get kids excited, we can start filling those voids with production. We don’t have to get bigger machines; we need more people involved at the production level. This is fertile ground, with more family ground and proprietorships. It’s been tough on rural America, and it doesn’t have to be. We can change that here.”
A noticeable presence at the WFRE was the Wyoming Hemp Company, representing a product that continues to grow in popularity among the farming industry with a long list of use and benefits.
“They have the whole manufacturing, so they take the raw material and make it industrial right here in Goshen County,” Dale continued. “Anything in plastic can be made out of hemp and can make things as easy as a tractor filter out of it. Anything that’s plastic or wood. What sold me on the whole thing was sweeping the floor, putting in a pellet and then we pour four or five gallons of water. It’s very interesting material.”
When asked why Torrington would be the place to hold such an event, as well as continuing to build valuable business contacts and associates, Dale noted one thing the community is becoming very well known for other than its farming industry.
“Torrington’s got a lot of good people,” Dale stated. “I’ve been working on this for a calendar year. I’ve spent nine months in Goshen County, and I’ve met a lot of people. Everyone is extremely friendly and kind. They don’t park in the grass in Wyoming. Other states are parking in the grass and are eating it up. They are good people and honest. One of the main reasons I took this on is to meet EWC President, Dr. Hawes. I’ve done 387 of these, and the maintenance staff at EWC is most accommodating. They’ve helped with a lot of things. It gives us a chance to showcase their facility.”
Momentarily shifting away from agriculture, Dale noted one recent incident that occurred at EWC that ensured a working future relationship with the college.
“There was a kid whose bag accidentally dumped in the hallway, and everything went everywhere,” Dale explained. “It was kind of stressing him out. All of these farm kids came and helped pick everything up, patted him on the back and went on their business. They wanted to help another human being because they care. I wanted to be a part of this, and this is where I want to go.”
With the event and experience being what would be considered immensely beneficial and productive, Dale was assuring that this would not be the last WFRE event, and plans for next year are already being lined up.
“It’s been a fun adventure and I’m looking forward to the longevity of this relationship,” Dale continued. “I couldn’t have done it without the college and the economic development. They were extremely helpful. We’ve already got the dates for next year, September 4 and 5 in 2024. We will also add some livestock components and other things from the college.”
When it came to what the future holds, which always reveals challenges and hardships along the way, Dale smiled with a bit of fearless assurance, referring to an old Torrington resident and successful businessman.
“There’s always challenges, but it’s just how you overcome it. It’s there that you just have to stay positive and keep charging. I had a friend who use to live in Torrington, Keith Maddox, and eventually he bought the American Hat Company. He would always say ‘brute force and perseverance’ is how he got to it. When he lived here, he owned the Bronco. With his clothes and brand-new Lincoln, all the college kids would see him and wanted that. Brute force and perseverance. He was so positive on everything. He would say, ‘I’ve never had a bad day. I had a bad fifteen minutes once, and I told myself I never wanted to do that again. So, never have a bad day.’”
For further information or questions regarding the WFRE, feel free to contact Dale at 866-685-0989, EWC at 307-532-8200, or the Wyoming Hemp Company at 307-222-9447.