Blooms are driving force behind DSU Ag Bowl
It’s an understatement to say that it’s been a tough year for ag producers, but hopefully it’s a blip on the radar screen, said local businessman Jeff Bloom, co-owner of Lake County International, the CASE IH ag equipment dealer in Madison.
His wife, Deb, notes “it’s the cycle of farm economics,” but to get through that cycle, Jeff said “we need to be optimistic and uplift ag partners in the community.”
This is something Jeff and Deb have been working on for several years. “We’re such an ag-dependent community,” said Jeff, “it’s important at every turn to highlight our ag producers and show them our appreciation.”
After seeing a nearby college celebrate agriculture at a football game, they proposed instituting the Dakota State University Ag Bowl. Now in its fourth year, Jeff serves as the Ag Bowl Committee chair.
“Ag Bowl is a great way to show appreciation to one of the most significant economic groups in the area,” said Jeff Dittman, athletic director. He noted how well attended the events are; in 2017, 5,500 people attended, which is the largest crowd to ever attend a DSU football game.
“The Blooms,” Dittman said, “have been the driving force behind this successful annual event.” Because of their efforts, the couple has been asked to do the coin toss at the August 29 game, where DSU will face off against long-time rival Dakota Wesleyan.
Ag is a $32.5 billion industry in South Dakota, but Jeff Bloom also notes the importance of DSU. “Given how important the university is to the community, it’s important to tie the two together.” The connections between the two can be seen in personal and professional ways.
Deb, an education alumna, remembers moving here from Irene, S.D. to start college, and how people reached out to the students. “The community of Madison was so friendly, and I was so impressed. It makes you feel more at home when people you don’t know are kind to you.”
University research projects also tie the two together. Martinson Ofori, a graduate student in computer science, won first place with a smart ag research project at the university’s annual research symposium in March. His project, titled “Smart Agriculture Beyond Industry: Analyzing the Future of Agriculture Through Social Media Insights,” looked at the correlation between smart ag and social media. Ofori spent the summer as an intern with AgTegra Cooperative, a farmer-owned grain and agronomy cooperative in eastern North and South Dakota.
Tailgating begins for the Ag Bowl at 4:45 p.m. on the east side of Trojan Field; kick-off is 7 p.m. Skydivers and the Madison High School Band are part of the pre-game activities beginning at 6:50 p.m., and at halftime, the United Way raffle drawing for a Gehl skid loader will take place.
“I think we’ll have a really huge crowd this year and it will be a lot of fun,” said Jeff Bloom.