Heavy equipment has been making its way to the Western State Bank Expo Center in preparation for the three-day agriculture and rural life show starting Thursday.

Even with the parking lot of the Western State Bank Expo Center only partly full as manufacturers bring in the massive machines, it's not hard to imagine that the cost of hardware at a Lamborghini supercar dealership would pale in comparison to ag-tech on display, Tuesday afternoon.

The 60th Anniversary 3i Show starts Thursday morning but vendors have been delivering big ticket items to the largest agriculture trade show in the state since the weekend.

About 1,000 companies will be represented at the show through nearly 500 contracts and growing, organizers said.

"I've always tried to think of this as a shopping mall," Western Kansas Manufacturers Association President Eddie Estes said. His favorite part of the show is how casual conversations between producers and manufacturers often turn into working products featured at the next year's show.

The Western Kansas Manufacturers Association organizes the annual event, a process that starts about 15 months earlier.

To keep track of the slate of events, the show has created an Android and iPhone app available free on Android and Apple markets. "The app's going to be really helpful," Estes said. It was developed with assistance from the Northwest Kansas Technical College.

This year will be the third since the show made Ford County it's permanent location. Estes was particularly happy to see another exhibitor, Morton Buildings, add the third permanent structure to the lot. QSI, or Quality Structures Inc., and Wick Buildings set up in previous years.

The Western State Bank Expo Center was built by the county primarily to convince the 3i Show to make its home in Ford County. The trade show signed a five-year agreement, but it is likely to be extended.

Chevrolet was also unloading new cars and pickups straight from Michigan for its ride and drive exhibit, and Cox Communications technicians were doing work from a bucket truck on the cameras that will broadcast the event live on the Internet.   

The live stream will be linked from the 3i Show website and on its app.

The schedule of events includes expert seminars and demonstrations, including an hourly exhibition of aerial drones produced by BTI Ag Solutions and high-powered electrical safety demonstrations by Victory Electric.

Vintage trucks and tractors will also be on display, courtesy of the Wheat State Chapter of the American Truck Historical Society and George and LaDonna Brown, respectively.  

Also expect politicians from across the state to make their election-year pilgrimage, including Gov. Sam Brownback who is expected to make an announcement from the show.

The show is open Thursday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. through 4 p.m. Admission and parking is free and concessions are available.