Agricultural Education at the Fair
Published in the August 25, 2018, edition of Lancaster Farming
As this year’s unusually wet growing season comes to an end, I am excited to join all of my fellow farmers and agricultural professionals as we showcase the best of Maryland agriculture at the 137th Annual Maryland State Fair. It truly is the “11 Best Days of Summer!”
For a lot of people, the fair is all about the rides and playing games on the midway, or trying some of the delicious food throughout the fairgrounds—for farmers like you and I, this our opportunity to share our passion for agriculture with the general public.
This marks my fourth State Fair as Maryland’s Secretary of Agriculture, and it is a tremendous honor for me to represent the most important industry in our state. The State Fair is a great time for all Marylanders to bring their family out for a fun, educational experience. With each new generation moving further and further away from the farm, our fairs and shows have become a critically important tool in educating our fellow citizens on the important work our farmers do each and every day to provide food and fiber while having a positive impact on our economy, environment, culture and quality of life.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture will return to the Cow Palace this year to showcase the diverse range of services our department provides. This includes nutrient management, agriculture and seafood marketing, animal health, pesticide regulation, plant protection and weed management, apiary inspection, weights and measures, state chemist, mosquito control and much more.
At the State Fair, we have different interactive games and displays rotating each day throughout the fair that you and your children can play together while learning about different aspects of agriculture. For instance, the kids can learn how to make slime and snow from our State Chemists, or spin the Wheel of Knowledge and win prizes for answering questions about Maryland agriculture.
Another important part of our department’s presence at the State Fair is the Maryland Horse Industry Board. They will return to the fair with their Horseland exhibit near the racetrack. Stop by to admire the horses or learn all there is to know about riding, racing, breeding and more.
There are a number of other ag-related attractions to visit, as well, including exhibits from Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland Farm Bureau, 4-H and Future Farmers of America.
Fairs and shows are particularly important to the families and young people who participate in 4-H and FFA. It takes a tremendous amount of time and resources to raise and show the chickens, sheep, pigs, and cows that we see at the fair each year. Thanks to the lessons learned from these programs, many of these young farmers will go on to be the future leaders of our industry.
There is plenty of fun to be had in the Cow Palace and Farm and Garden Building at this year’s Maryland State Fair. I hope you all get a chance to check out the different attractions and learn something new.
For more information, visit www.marylandstate.fair.com.
See you at the Fair!