The 61st annual 3i Show opened Thursday morning after a welcome overnight rain to clear skies, gentle breezes and mild temperatures.
It was a big change from the last couple of years when Western Kansas Manufacturer's Association, the sponsor of the show, tried a July show date and faced serious challenges from the typical summer heat of western Kansas.
Exhibitors were clearly happy with the change in weather conditions on Thursday's opening day which steadily picked up attendance from the opening ceremonies to close at 4 p.m.
Gov. Sam Brownback, in opening remarks to the crowd, stressed the importance of the show to the economy and introduced several Cabinet members who accompanied him to the show: Secretary of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Robin Jennison and Jennison's assistant secretary, Linda Craighead; acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca M. Blank and Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey.
Jennison said events such as the 3i Show are important to a growing tourism in Kansas because they draw people into the state and show them what Kansas has to offer.
He offered statistics on the value of the show: 1,100 hotel rooms, representing 19 properties, are full; 187 campsites on three RV parks full.
"This show represents, on the modest side, a $3.2 million level of economic activity for this area," Jennison said. "This shows the impact of tourism."
He said that in the last four years, the transient bed tax across the state, a tax which goes to local governments where hotels are located, has totaled $40 million and that more than 800,000 room nights have been added over the previous 4-year period.
WKMA CEO and President Eddie Estes introduced several legislators and area leaders before calling on his volunteer leaders and congratulating the volunteers in southwest Kansas who annually give of their time and energy to make the show a success.
The 3i Show continues through Saturday at the Western Bank Expo Center in Dodge City.