Fun, hands-on agricultural experiences are the centerpiece of Ohio Farm Bureau’s exhibit at this year’s Ohio State Fair. Last year the “Land and Living” exhibit located in the Nationwide Donahey Ag & Hort Building drew an estimated 350,000 visitors who learned about agriculture’s link to everyday life. The fair runs July 25 to Aug. 5 in Columbus.
“This is a good opportunity for Farm Bureau to talk with people from all over Ohio and for consumers to ask questions about agriculture,” said Cara Lawson, OFBF’s director of community engagement.
The theme for this year’s county Farm Bureau contest is “Agriculture in Our Backyard.” Each county Farm Bureau has planted flowers, vegetables, fruit or plants in a 16-inch pot to showcase how agriculture is represented in its area. The fair’s horticulture judge will determine the top 10 winners, and those counties will be awarded a cash prize to donate to a charity or cause. Visitors can also vote on their favorite container for the people’s choice award.
“The contest is to tell that story of what agriculture is like in each county backyard,” Lawson said. “They can interpret it any way they want — whether it’s from out their backyard window or how agriculture is prominent in their community.” Activities at the exhibit include climbing a giant corn wall, watching chicks and ducks hatch, playing with puppies from working dog families and having a picture taken for visitors to take home. Children can take a ride through the OFBF Country Cruise on a pedal tractor and plant a flower to take home. All activities are free.
“We’ve expanded our efforts for consumers to better understand gardening on a small scale, whether it’s 10 square feet or 1 acre,” Lawson said. “We’ll have ideas for backyard gardens and instructions on raised beds and container gardens. We want to try to help people understand composting, recycling and being green.”
Several agriculture associations and Nationwide Insurance will have interactive displays in the building. This year Nationwide is partnering with the Columbus Zoo and will have zookeepers showing and talking about various animals.Special events at the exhibit include the unveiling of a new mural in the building on the first day of the fair and the carving of a giant squash weighing hundreds of pounds on July 28 and Aug. 1.
Check out photos of the winners of the “Agriculture in Our Backyard” horticulture contest