County fairs showing resurgence in educating urban-dwellers

County fairs showing resurgence in educating urban-dwellers

Iowa State Fair. Photo by Ben Nuelle.

It’s July and that means fair time. From 4-H to FFA, open class competitions, diversity of foods satisfying all taste buds, agricultural, industrial and home life exhibits and carnival rides, Iowans across the state show off their pride and heritage from county to county.

Tom Barnes from Cresco is Executive Director of the Association of Iowa Fairs. There’s 105 member fairs in the organization including the Iowa State Fair. He and his wife been to most of them. Big or small the county pride remains the same.

“No matter where we go, it doesn’t make a difference if it is a small county fair that serves a few thousand people or the Clay County Fair, Iowa State Fair or the Mississippi Valley Fair where they are drawing hundreds of thousands of people, the attitude is still the same. They are proud of what they have and like to highlight what they have,” Barnes says.

In Barnes’ travels to fairs across the state, he’s seen a resurgence in ag education.

“There’s people in Iowa who do not understand where their milk comes from or do not understand where that pork chop comes from. What we are seeing is in a resurgence in local fairs promoting that message of where your food comes from,” Barnes said.“The county fair is the super bowl event of the county.”

He adds the fairs have done a great job of marketing themselves.

 

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