The 75th Annual North Dakota Barley Show will once again take over the small town of Osnabrock on Friday, March 22. The show, like so many crop specific events, has undergone changes over the years to now be more about the camaraderie of the farming community and the industry as a whole.
By Melissa Anderson
From the show’s humble beginning of serving bologna sandwiches in 1941 to today’s full spread of roast beef and ham along with the sides, including the famous barley salad, the North Dakota Barley Show has always featured the farming community in the area. For over 50 years, the show was a two day event with the noon lunch, informational program, information program, ladies program, and the stag on the first day. The following day featured the talents of the local community with the annual review. No show would be complete without the dance following the review, but as times changed and the communities and barley acres shrank, the review and dance eventually died down in attendance, causing both to be canceled.
“It was always a large event but reached its peak between the 60s and 80s. This was usually live bands starting with the “big band era” bands playing waltz and polka music and evolved into more rock and roll bands in the 70s and 80s,” long time Barley show secretary Charles Ottem said.
Barley was a main crop in the area, with growers looking for information and insight on how to grow a better barley crop to increase yield and quality. While still an important crop to North Dakota, the barley growing area has somewhat shifted out of Cavalier County.
“We used to be known for growing barley but with changes in weather and crop rotations shifting to other crops we have seen a decrease in acres and a shift to other parts of the state. In recent years, we have also seen a shift in the brewing industry from using 6 rowed barley to using two rowed barley,” Ottem shared.
The ND Barley Show of today has become a one day event starting with the barley sample judging followed by the free noon BBQ lunch, informational program in the afternoon and exhibitors dinner in the evening. At the 50th anniversary of the show many people thought the show would be over. Around that time the durum show had dissolved as they were facing some of the same quality issues as barley in the area after having wet years.
“Quite the contrary. It’s now our 75th and still going strong! That is thanks to our generous local community and support from local businesses and growers,” current barley show secretary Justin Balsdon said.
“Our show is mainly directed towards barley, but many of the speakers we have in for our afternoon show have topics that cover all farmers and local challenges they are facing.”
Balsdon explained that the barley show of today may only be one day, but it still has significant information that pertains to all farms in the area. Dr. Rich Horsley will talk on changes to the brewing industry and how that affects his breeding program at NDSU for new barley varieties. Maltsters are always looking to improve the taste, color and quality of beer produced, and a big part of this starts at the breeding level.
Bryon Parman’s talk will be on farm profitability and the outlook for this year’s ag industry. It’s been just about everywhere that there are some challenging times ahead for the ag industry. Parman will dig deep into the rising costs of ag inputs and give an idea on where cuts can be made and where producers still need to invest money to grow the best crop possible.
“Towards the end we will have Steve Edwardson from our ND Barley council talk on changes in the barley industry that will affect us in the years to come and what they are doing at a national level to help us overcome some of the challenges ahead,” Balsdon said.
In addition to the three speakers, the 75th Annual Barley Show is bringing back the feel of the glory days with a special charity show on Saturday night featuring the Dueling Duo. The Dueling Duo, “The World’s Largest Pair”, is based in South Dakota and has performed over 1100 shows across eight states with no signs of stopping any time soon.
“This came about as we figured we needed to have a big hoorah for the 75th anniversary of the show. We tossed around a few ideas and concluded that dueling pianos were the majority vote of our directors,” Balsdon shared.
If the name sounds familiar, the Dueling Duo was in the area a few years ago, performing at the Eagles in Langdon. The obvious enjoyment of the crowd made the decision to bring the fun show back to the area fairly easy. The doors to the Osnabrock Barley Hall will open at 7 p.m. with the world’s largest pair taking the stage at 8 p.m. There is one aspect of the show that should be noted prior to attending- they have put an age limit of 21 on the show since they will have a cash bar available at the show.
Previous shows have given the Dueling Duo high marks for their high energy, very interactive group that plays a 100 percent request show. The Dueling Duo “can play the most serious dueling piano songs with the addition of a killer fiddle, sax or trumpet; create combinations of songs you didn’t think possible; and play the most current trendy or internet sensations.”
To make sure that this ‘cannot miss’ show is as enjoyable as possible, the Barley Show organizers have made arrangements to have bus runs available to and from Osnabrock from both Langdon and Walhalla this year.
“If this event goes over well, we will look at doing busses from other towns in the future,” Balsdon shared.
There will be a $10 cover charge for the show with all proceeds from the event being donated to area organizations. With a potential donation possible between $2500-$4000 depending on crowd attendance and tips, the three organizations receiving the donations include the Osnabrock Community Living Center, the Milton Veterans Memorial, and the Langdon Day Care Center.
All money collected at the door for admission will be donated. Be sure to tip the Dueling Duo well, as they have generously agreed to donate half of their tip money. In the future, if this aspect is decided to be continued, the directors of the Barley Show will look for ideas on where to donate including the many other communities that have provided support.
“We are looking at this event as a way of giving back to the local communities that have supported us for the past 75 years and a way of saying thank you,” Balsdon said.
The ND Barley Show wishes to give a big thank you to all of their local sponsors. Without the help from the sponsors the barley show would not have survived through the tough times and continued the show for an amazing 75 years! Looking for more to come.