After a two-year hiatus, the Bureau County Agricultural Fair has returned to the fairgrounds – Shaw Local

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In an effort to demonstrate to all Bureau County fourth graders the importance of agriculture in their lives, the Bureau County Agricultural Bureau Women’s Committee held its 26th Annual Farm Fair on March 17 after a two-year break due to pandemic measures.

The Farm Fair was a day-long event at the Bureau County Fair Grounds during which students made timed stops at 14 different learning centers. These stations range from Dairy, Embryology, Safety, Pork, Corn, Seed Science, Conservation, Beef, Soy, Pollinators, Farm Technology, Equipment , large animals and small animals.

The Farm Bureau Women’s Committee and Bureau County Ag Coalition Committee started Ag Fair more than 25 years ago.

The Ag Coalition committee is made up of one member from each participating Ag Fair station. This committee was originally formed to develop and oversee the objectives set for the agricultural fair.

Over time, the agricultural coalition committee handed over the organizing process to the women’s committee, where the chairperson takes the lead in final decision-making. The members of the Ag Coalition then take care of the planning of their individual presentations.

Each year, the agricultural fair is evaluated and any consideration for change comes from observation of the event, feedback from teachers from evaluation sheets and suggestions made by volunteers.

The committee begins the planning process about six months before the agricultural fair each year. The committee works with local businesses, farmers, county commodity groups, U of I Extension, our local FS and SWCD as well as state commodity groups to make presentations at each station.

Volunteers are recruited, a total of 75, to serve as presenters, class leaders, timekeepers, bus conductors, goody bag distributors and several other jobs, including set-up workers and cleaning.

The day before the fair, the presenters take the time to set up their displays and the assembly team sets up tables, chairs and partitions at each station. On the day of the fair coffee, juice, donuts, lunch and snacks are provided by Farm Bureau and served to all presenters and volunteers.

Following the agricultural fair, each student received a goody bag that the committee prepared and which contained items donated by each of the presenters, ranging from coloring books to balloons and crayons.

The teachers received an evaluation that will help not only the committee, but also the presenters next year. As a follow-up, the committee is sponsoring a collection of thank you cards for all volunteers at the event. Students are encouraged to draw on their favorite part of the educational event.

A teacher attending a former agricultural fair summed up the event: “The agricultural fair is Bureau County’s best-kept secret.” This year, about 300 students from 18 classes participated in the agricultural fair.

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