One of the state’s top summertime tourist attractions, Thursday marks the start of the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.
Besides the concerts, midway rides and deep-fried foods on a stick, Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey says the fair serves as an excellent opportunity to educate consumers about Iowa’s number-one industry: agriculture.
“It is really important,” Northey says. “We have a million people come through there in the 11 days of the fair and an awful lot of those folks don’t have much exposure to agriculture except maybe at the state fair. It’s important to take that opportunity, offer them a taste of it, and maybe even meet somebody who raises some of the food they eat every day.”
Northey says there are plenty of examples of animal husbandry and animal welfare seen at the fair, which serves as another form of agricultural education for consumers. “From the Animal Learning Center where you can see baby calves and chicks and pigs being born, that’s one of the busiest buildings at the fair,” Northey says, “to being able to walk into the exhibitions where you see the showing (of livestock) going on and being able to go into the barns and see animals being cared for and families and kids working together to take care of those animals.”
Northey says many commodity organizations distribute information to fair attendees, and the state ag department will feature two exhibit booths, one in the Agriculture Building and the other at the Varied Industries building.
(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)