No. 2: Garden City loses 3i Show to Dodge City

12/30/2011

Editor's Note: This is the ninth in a series of 10 stories counting down The Telegram's top 10 stories of 2011 as chosen by The Telegram staff.

Editor's Note: This is the ninth in a series of 10 stories counting down The Telegram's top 10 stories of 2011 as chosen by The Telegram staff.

By SHAJIA AHMAD

sahmad@gctelegram.com

After 57 years of a biennial tradition of the 3i Show in Garden City, locals said goodbye to the agricultural expo.

Garden City lost the 3i Show to its neighbor to the east — Dodge City — earlier this summer, much to the disappointment of locals.

Organizers from the Western Kansas Manufacturers Association, which have hosted the major ag-related trade expo in Garden City and Great Bend in alternating years for nearly six decades, decided at some point before their mid-July announcement that Dodge City would be their new site.

The WKMA plans to host the show in Dodge City next July and has signed contracts with Dodge City officials to keep it there at least through 2016.

The WKMA is headquartered in Dodge City.

Historically, the community has stepped up to provide the facilities and volunteer support services to the show because of the significant fiscal and symbolic impact of the event.

The three 'i's in "3i Show" stand for irrigation, implements and industry.

The large exhibition show is so prominently known in the community, the fairgrounds' exhibition building often is referred to by the misnomer "3i Building," a name locals can still be heard using today.

Local government and business officials reacted strongly to the news when it was made public, though many admitted they weren't surprised and had been hearing of the show's move through the rumor mill for months.

"As much as we regret the decision by the WKMA to move the show to a permanent location, we assumed it was coming and have known for many months. Still, it's very disappointing," Paul Joseph, a former Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce president, said in a release following the July announcement by the WKMA. Joseph had said numerous times that the local fiscal impact of the show in Garden City was estimated at about $2 million in gross profits through motel and hotel stays, and gas and food payments by visitors, funds that circulated at least 2.5 more times before they exited the community.

Others agreed at the time about the show's significant community impact.

County Commission Chairman Roman Halbur had said the commission also attempted to reach a compromise when it first got indication the show might be leaving. Halbur had said he offered that the WKMA host the show in all three communities in alternating years: Garden City, Great Bend and Dogde City.

"After this year's 3i Show (in Garden City), we had indicated to (Eddie Estes, president of WKMA) that's what we would like to see done. ... Obviously, he didn't do that," Halbur said. "We did everything we could do to keep them coming back, but we had no input on their final decision."

As part of legal agreements between the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce and Finney County to host the 3i Show in Garden City every other year, the county had provided at no cost the fairgrounds' buildings and grounds, excluding the grandstand arena.

The estimated cost for buildings used, labor and equipment charges incurred by the county's public works department, overtime pay for fairgrounds staff, custodial supplies and other charges totaled about $32,340 in 2009, according to fairgrounds officials.

The chamber, in turn, historically has agreed to return 90 percent of the net proceeds from fees charged for booth space at the show to the county. For the 2009 show in Garden City, that figure was about $13,500 returned to the county, according to chamber officials.

Commissioners lamented at the time, when negotiating agreements with the chamber, that as the county's costs to host the show have increased over the years, the revenue generated from the agricultural trade show's proceeds have decreased.

Future 3i Show dates in Dodge City will be the second Thursday through Saturday each July. The event is scheduled for July 12 through 14 in 2012, according to the WKMA.

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