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The Importance of Your Local Fair

Steve and Maggie Ruggles of Hancock County served as editors of the bi-weekly Growing our Generation e-newsletter. They contributed this article as part of the Sept. 12, 2016 edition:

We recently wrapped up our local county fair. We love that the fair is an opportunity to speak to the general public about agriculture. Many of the people who attend have no idea where their food comes from or what it means to grow crops and raise livestock. Being an active participant by entering a project or volunteering for an ag- related association’s booth are both great ways to educate the community.

Most people would not consider sitting on your tack box in front of your animal’s pen a form of advocating for agriculture. But in fact, doing just that allows you to interact, answer questions, and educate people who are passing by. For example, while walking through the sheep barn at our fair, my mother-in-law had a question about a particular lamb that I could not answer. Two girls were passing time in the adjacent pen and she was able to speak with them about that lamb and have her questions answered by someone with firsthand knowledge.

Personally, I enjoy volunteering at the Hancock County Farm Bureau Ag Tent. Generally our tent consists of displays and activities geared toward educating and engaging the public. This year one of our displays included various young animals: a cow and calf, kid (goat), lamb, chicks and ducklings. In previous years, sows giving birth, chicks hatching, and a tractor simulator have all been great draws for getting people interested in agriculture.

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Steve and Maggie Ruggles practice no-till farming on 900 acres in Hancock County. They grow corn, wheat and soybeans and also maintain a small herd of feeder calves and a flock of laying hens.