You can tell when the top of the hour is nearing at the 3i Show in Dodge City. That's when people on the grounds start heading toward the northeast corner of the show grounds to watch the drone fly.
BTI, which has five locations of John Deere dealerships, is demonstrating the quad-copter drone that it is now marketing as an entry-level infrared photography tool for farmers interested in precision ag.
"The tent sort of fills up toward the top the hour and as soon as the drone is airborne, everybody heads out to watch it fly," said Kent Kirk, who heads up BTI's new precision ag division.
Kirk said the drone flew on opening day of the show on Thursday in spite of strong, gusty winds most of the morning.
"This quad-copter will handle pretty strong winds," he said. "Especially when we are just demonstrating how it flies. If we were trying to get good quality photographs, it might be an issue. But one of the questions that we always get is what kind of wind it will handle, so it was kind of good to have a chance to demonstrate it on a windy day."
Friday was considerably calmer – and hotter – than Thursday but show goers didn't seem to mind. And many exhibitors, especially those with outdoor spaces, including BTI, have evaporative cooling units in their tents or booth spaces.
In addition, Western Plains Medical Center has a "cool space" tent where visitors to the show can take a break from the heat and sit down and relax.
Attendance at the show Friday morning was down from the opening morning on Thursday, but was picking up quickly toward noon.
Inside exhibitors at the Western Bank Expo building said they were gearing up for Saturday, which typically brings a lot more families and urban dwellers out to the show and brings additional traffic to inside booths, many of which exhibit products for home maintenance, lawn care and health and consumer products.