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State Fair events connect consumers to agriculture

Photo by Ben Nuelle

The Iowa State Fair (ISF) takes place in an urban area. However, its location does not stop growers and producers from sharing agriculture’s message.

Mindy Williamson, marketing director for the Iowa State Fair, says the annual event will feature two new activities, which will highlight Iowa agriculture. Williamson says one event encompasses a farm-to-table concept and provides farmers an opportunity to connect with consumers.

“We’ve called it ‘Farm-to-Fair.’ It’s the largest dinner table ever set at the Iowa State Fair, 500-feet. It’s a Sunday dinner, just like you would have at home. It’s a partnership with all seven commodity groups. Each item on the menu is part of an Iowa product that is grown, raised and taken care of here by Iowa’s farmers and then brought to the fair,” Williamson said.

The other event, called “Fair After Dark,” allows those 21 years and older an opportunity to ask agriculture-related questions in a smaller, more intimate atmosphere. Williamson says “Fair After Dark” helps reconnect younger fairgoers to agriculture.

“There will be two events focused on agriculture and education, but making it fun by opening the buildings up after they’re closed, from 9 to 11 p.m. One is in the Animal Learning Center where folks can touch, see, feel, and ask questions about the baby animals. The other one is in the Agriculture Building where people can make flower crowns, talk to the honey producers and then maybe get a chance to go behind the scenes with the butter cow,” Williamson said.

Williamson says the Iowa State Fair staff welcomes these new events, which will help connect urban attendees with rural agriculture. She talks about the importance of advocating for agriculture at the widely attended event.

“Reaching out to the urban population to talk about agriculture is key to what we do with the dwindling number of people having that exposure to agriculture. We preserve that history in the agriculture and livestock aspect. We want to make sure we educate our urban folks about what goes on in Ag,” Williamson said.