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In 1953, Prairie Farmer teamed with WLS Radio in Chicago, Illinois, USA to host a field day where farmers could see first-hand the progress being made in farming equipment, along with seed varieties and ag chemicals.

In subsequent years, the show evolved to include seed test plots and field demonstrations. The show typically was held annually at different sites in Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana. As the event grew, it became apparent that temporary sites were inadequate to handle the large crowds and exhibits.

In 2005, a permanent biennial exhibit site was constructed near Decatur, Illinois which hosted its inaugural show in 2005. For the 2007 show, the site was expanded and upgraded with asphalt paved streets. The Decatur site is one of two permanent biennial sites constructed to host the show.

Boone, Iowa, was selected for the show's second permanent biennial site. In 2008 the show site hosted its first show at its newly constructed permanent biennial facility. The show now alternates between these two permanent sites on an annual basis. The Boone site is developed on about 600 acres (2.4 km2) at the intersection of U.S. Highway 30 and Iowa Highway 17, while the Decatur show site includes 640 acres (2.6 km2) of exhibits and field demonstrations.

The Farm Progress Show is the oldest and largest outdoor agricultural equipment exhibition in the United States with more than 500 exhibitors. Farm Progress Companies does not release attendance figures, but the Decatur Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates attendance of at least 150,000 for the three days of the 2007 show.

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