WATERLOO, Iowa --- The Agricultural Machinery Conference scheduled to start Monday has fittingly found a permanent home in downtown Waterloo.

The event, which gives ag engineers a chance to share ideas and learn about the latest technology, moved from the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids to the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center last year. Event Chairman Jim Evans doesn't expect it to leave.

The three-day convention entitled, "Sustain the Power: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow," features daily educational seminars, featured speakers and a trade show.

Evans, a senior engineer at John Deere's Product Engineering Center in Cedar Falls, said Waterloo's central location and ag history is a hit with conference goers.

"The feedback was very supportive of the change; the venue meets our needs," Evans said. "With the history of Waterloo, the 175th anniversary of John Deere and all the innovations that have come out of the Waterloo (Deere plants), it really fits in with the conference."

Deere's past and present will be featured on opening day.

A tour of the John Deere Waterloo Works, which manufactures Deere's large row-crop tractors, will begin at 2:30 p.m. Monday to showcase the technology of today.

Ag engineering marvels of yesteryear will be on display later that afternoon and evening at the Kenny Kass farm a few miles southeast of Dunkerton. From 5 to 7 p.m., convention goers can check out what's considered one of the largest and best private tractor collections, especially pre-1930s, in the United States.

The evening's keynote speaker is Wes Buchele, a retired Iowa State University ag engineer and safety expert. An accomplished author, Buchele also holds 20 patents, most notably for a "machine for forming and handling large round bales of a fibrous material." Refreshments will be served.

The registration deadline for the conference is Thursday. Participants can sign up at www.amc-online.org or call (515) 564-1549. The cost for Monday's tours and opening ceremony is $15. Individual educational sessions cost $80 and daily trade show fees are $70. Discounts are available for attending multiple events.

Four Northeast Iowa producers will speak May 8 and 9 during breakfast and lunch. Producers will provide insight on how ag innovations help farmers be safe and efficient.

Engineers "like to see how customers are using technology," Evans said.

About 600 people, mostly from the Cedar Valley and the Midwest, are signed up to attend. Between 50 to 60 exhibitors are scheduled to attend the trade show. The majority are mostly component, engineering and service companies --- a few from Northeast Iowa.

The Waterloo, Convention and Visitors Bureau helped organize convention activities.

Erin Schmitz, director of convention sales for the bureau, said cooperation of area residents like Kass and other downtown attractions keep conventions coming back. This one contributes an estimated $100,000 to the local economy, she said.

"Participants will explore our restaurants and attractions during their down time. We're very excited about it," Schmitz said.

Check out the conference's website, www.amc-online.org, for a complete list of activities and seminars.

Ag business reporter for the Courier

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