Ag lessons from the Indiana State Fair

For an agricultural communicator, the Indiana State Fair is dream come true. Where else can you find almost a million people in the heart of a major metropolitan area congregating around an event that is in large part all about youth, education and agriculture?

During the 17 days of the Indiana State Fair, I found myself making numerous trips to the fairgrounds to work ISDA’s exhibit, generate content for social media and cover various events. I also had the opportunity to spend two afternoons at the fair with family and friends, enjoying the food and activities as an attendee.

Beef Sundae (photo courtesy of my dad, David).

Beef Sundae (photo courtesy of my dad, David).

Sitting at my desk in Indianapolis, I can easily forget about various aspects of the farm-to-fork continuum. The fair showed me three important facets of agriculture of which I needed to be reminded.

Farmers feed me. Like most fair goers, I had the opportunity to eat a lot of good food. Milkshakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, pork burgers, beef sundaes, ribeye sandwiches, funnel cakes, popcorn and soft pretzels were on my menu at the fair. As I ate classic fair fare, I was reminded that I owe a debt of thanks to the men and women who make it possible for me to eat.

Agriculture is more than corn and cows.  As the industry has advanced over the years, the jobs and needs of farming and agribusiness have evolved. During the fair, I had a chance to hear men and women like Norman McCowan and Marianne Ash. McCowan serves as the president of Bell Aquaculture, the nation’s largest yellow perch aquaculture facility. Ash is an Indiana veterinarian who works for the Indiana Board of Animal Health, planning and coordinating responses to animal health emergencies. People like them remind me that there are numerous components of agriculture that play an important role in safely and sustainably placing food on the kitchen table.

ISF Opening Ceremony_08022013_ISDA (19)

Taken at the Indiana State Fair opening ceremony.

People are at the heart of farming and agribusiness. I had the privilege of helping with the Hoosier Homestead Awards Ceremony, a biannual ISDA event that honors Indiana farms that have been in the same family for over 100 years. The 69 farms honored at the ceremony had stayed in business through World War I, the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II. A handful of the farms have been in the same family since the Civil War era. One of the farms honored has been operating since 1812 (four years before Indiana became a state). Family businesses like these don’t happen by chance. They’re the result of people who faithfully invest in their operations for the sake of their families and communities.

The Indiana State Fair reminded me of the vital role farming and agribusiness play in placing food on the kitchen table. I’m thankful I have a job that offers me the opportunity to continue learning about the products, people, and processes of Indiana agriculture.

Did you attend the Indiana State Fair this year? If so, what did you enjoy most about the event?

Categories: Agriculture in Indiana | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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