By Christina Dittmer
The Iowa State Fair is right around the corner and the Iowa Soybean Association is doing its part to ensure fairgoers have fun while learning about agriculture and the role soybean farmers play in helping feed and fuel Iowa, the nation and world. ISA, based in Ankeny and committed to improving the competitiveness of Iowa's 37,000 soybean farmers, is partnering with the State Fair and other organizations to bring old favorites and a few new events to the list of must-see stops:
Activities include trams, shows and photo opportunities
It's easy and safe for fairgoers to get from one end of the grounds to the other thanks to ISA sponsorship of not only the tram tractors and carts, but also the biodiesel that fuels this popular transportation.
Through Rhonda Renee's "Thank A Farmer" show featuring storytelling, juggling and music, spectators young and old will learn that nearly everything they touch, consume and wear has a direct connection to agriculture and a farmer. Thirty-minute shows will be performed each day in the Christensen Farms Animal Learning Center at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Inside the Ag Building, participants can learn what Iowa farmers are doing to protect Iowa's water supply as they meander through Farmville and meet Iowa's farmers. Fairgoers won't want to miss 'Farm With Us', the new, green screen photo booth where they can become a celebrity in a flash and get a free, printed portrait.
Learn about conservation at the Penningroth Center
Iowa soybean farmers are excelling in environmental protection and practices and will be recognized on the morning of August 13 at the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award ceremony to be held at the Penningroth Center.
Fun for children of all ages, Little Hands on Farm located just north of the Animal Learning Center is a place for children to learn how food is grown by participating in a variety of hands-on activities. They can also package soybeans to help feed Iowa's pork and poultry industries.
The Soyfoods Council will present two chances to experience soyfoods at the fair on August 11. The Annual Soy Salad Dressing Professional Chef Contest will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in the Ag building --- stop by to test the chef's creations! The second opportunity is a cooking demonstration and soyfoods contest judging at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. in the Elwell Building.
"What farmers grow makes Iowa go"
Again this year, ISA is partnering with the Iowa Food & Family Project (IFFP) to feed people's curiosity about how food is grown and the dedicated farmers who grow it. The must-see exhibit will feature activities for children and adults and is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily in the south atrium of the Varied Industries Building. A must-see sculpture created from nearly 50 tons of soil and sand will provide the ideal backdrop to a one-of-a-kind celebration of farming hosted by the IFFP during the Iowa State Fair.
The exhibit, "What farmers grow makes Iowa go," will feature the work of Greg and Brandi Glenn, 26-year veterans of sand sculpting and co-owners of Sandscapes. The exhibit is powered by the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Farm Credit Services of America, Midwest Dairy, Machine Shed Restaurant, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds, Iowa Corn, McDonald's, Iowa Food Bank Association, Iowa Grocery Industry Association and United Soybean Board.
The work of art will measure 20-by-24 feet and stand more than 12-feet tall. It will showcase how food is grown and where it's enjoyed. Included in the sculpture will be farms and farm fields, grocery stores, restaurants and the all-important kitchen table.
Kristin Porter will also appear at the exhibit
"Iowa Girl Eats" Kristin Porter, host of the IFFP's "Join My Journey," will make appearances throughout the fair at the exhibit. She'll greet and meet fairgoers and autograph the popular "Let's Cook" cookbook published this summer by the IFFP. "The fair is one of my favorite Iowa summer traditions and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone as they stop by the exhibit," says Porter.
"From the ground up, farmers are dedicated to healthy families, communities and the environment," says Chris Freland, industry relations manager, Midwest Dairy Association. "The exhibit and related activities will reaffirm the dedication of farmers to growing safe, wholesome food, generating jobs and income that build strong communities and safeguarding air, soil and water quality."
Fairgoers can visit with farmers about food production and participate in numerous activities. Children will be invited to participate in a coloring and illustration contest and receive a complimentary ice cream cone courtesy of McDonald's. People of all ages can test their food and farming IQ for the chance to win unique prizes.
The IFFP will also join the Iowa State Fair and USDA in sending fairgoers on a scavenger hunt throughout the fairgrounds to learn more about agriculture. "AgVenture" trail maps will be available at information stands located throughout the fair. Once completed, they can be redeemed for a special gift at the IFFP booth.