This last week has been incredibly warm and humid, so you may have put off plans to head the the Great Minnesota Get Together. This weekend – the final weekend of the fair – is supposed to be beautiful! It would be a great time to check out all the awesome agriculture exhibits at the Minnesota State Fair!
Our family has been attending the fair for quite a few years. We started volunteering in the Oink Booth when we were members of our county pork producers association. We had so much fun handing out pig ears and answering questions about our farm, and about raising pigs in Minnesota. After our daughters became members of 4-H, we started volunteering at the Farm Bureau barn for the days they would be competing at the state fair. This is the first year that our daughters are out of 4-H, but that doesn’t mean our state fair days are over!
On Sunday, September 1, Jonathan and I will be volunteering in the Farm Bureau Building from 1-5 pm. We are excited to be working with Bryan and Marytina Lawrence from Princeton. (To learn more about the Lawrence’s farm, click here.) We’ve known Bryan and Marytina since we first became involved with the Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers program. Marytina now works with the Speak for Yourself program, which is one of the things I’m involved in.
The Speak for Yourself program does a great job of helping farmers feel comfortable telling their story in front of others. Throughout the fair, there have been several SFY participants who have volunteered to work in the Farm Bureau Building. I hope you will come out on Sunday to ask us questions, or check out the building on Monday when Wanda Patsche will be working. Be sure to also read her blog entry about the state fair before you go!
One of the reasons why I love volunteering at the Farm Bureau Building is meeting people from all over the world. Last year, there was a family from Europe who stopped by to check out how we farm compared to how they farm. When you walk into the building, you will be greeted by one of the volunteers, and asked if you would like to answer a few questions in order to win a prize. The search for the answers will take you around the displays in the building, helping you to learn more about agriculture in Minnesota. After you answer all the questions, you will receive an insulated lunch bag. There is also a recipe booklet available for those who like to cook. There are drawings for children’s books, including “Little House on the Prairie”, so make sure to sign up for your kids!
The Ag Cab Lab-Combine is also in the Farm Bureau Building. This activity is great for kids of all ages. Sit inside the cab and see what it is like to combine different crops. If you would like to see what a farmer does while driving a tractor, head on over to the CHS Miracle of Birth Center where the Ag Cab Lab-Tractor is located. While there, check out the new livestock babies that have been born during the fair. The Miracle of Birth Center is another great place to learn about agriculture in Minnesota. The veterinarians, staff, and student volunteers have been working really hard this week to make sure the animals are well cared for in the heat. Ask the FFA students about the animals they are with. They would love to answer your questions!
Besides the Oink Booth that is found in the pig barn, check out the Moo Booth, and the Baa Booth. The Moo Booth has activities going on throughout the day on Sunday, including milking demonstrations. The Baa Booth is located in the sheep barn, and has some fun facts about raising sheep. All three of these booths have farmer volunteers working in them, and they, too, would love to answer your questions.
Another great area to learn about agriculture is the Dairy Building. Not only will you be able to see Princess Kay of the Milky Way’s Butterhead, but you may even get to see Princess Kay herself! The ice cream that you can buy in the Dairy Building is awesome. You can walk around inside the building and pick up recipes from other livestock organizations. Make sure you talk to the people handing out the recipe cards. They all are passionate about what they do!
Pretty much every year, we also take a walk through the Agriculture Horticulture Building to find the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association booth. Jonathan has won many ribbons on seeds that have been submitted. There is a display there about what the seeds from different plants look like. Do you know the difference between grass seed and flax seed? This is the building that houses the contests for Christmas trees, Bees & Honey, Farm Crops, Flower Show, Fruit & Wine, and Vegetables & Potatoes. It is fun to walk through and see the entries, especially the giant vegetables!
There are so many great agriculture stories at the Minnesota State Fair. I would love to hear what you learned when you checked out all the fun displays and the barns – add it to the comments below.
See you at the Fair!