DOSWELL—Virginians visiting the State Fair of Virginia may want to stop at the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s exhibit to “Thank a Farmer.”
During the state fair, which will run from Sept. 24 through Oct. 3 at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation will be emphasizing the importance of farming. The organization’s Farm Safety Advisory Committee is spearheading an effort to demonstrate to farmers how much the public supports their work.
Visitors to Farm Bureau’s exhibit space will be encouraged to write messages or draw pictures that illustrate how much they appreciate farmers providing them with food, fiber, and fuel. They also will be asked to share their support on social media using the hashtag, #VaLovesFarmers.
“Farmers do so much for Virginians, and they work hard every day. Farming can be extremely stressful and adversely affect farmers’ mental health,” said Dana Fisher, chair of the VFBF safety committee. “We wanted a tangible way for the public to show its support of farmers. And since so many people visit the state fair, we thought this would be a good place to kick off this program.”
Children will be able to fill in farm-themed coloring sheets using soy-based crayons, and adults can provide hand-written messages of thanks and encouragement. Drawings and notes will be displayed beside the Meadow Pavilion.
After the fair, the display will be exhibited at the VFBF Annual Convention, one of the state’s largest annual gatherings of farmers.
Additionally, some fairgoers will be interviewed about their thoughts on agriculture and farmers. Those videotaped messages will be shared on social media.
“Agriculture remains the foundation of Virginia’s economy and our largest private industry,” said Brad Copenhaver, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. “In addition to providing us with food, fiber and fuel, agriculture can also support recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, land conservation and flood mitigation, and improve water quality, soil health, and carbon sequestration. The Thank-A-Farmer program lets farmers know how much we appreciate their contributions to our everyday lives and as stewards of our land, water and other natural resources.”
Fair visitors will be able to explore the importance of Virginia agriculture through interactive features of the Farm Bureau exhibit. Among the activities will be a tractor simulator equipped with videos that let people steer their way through a day on the farm. Fairgoers also can enjoy learning the benefits of Virginia’s commodities by selecting from several short videos on a farm products display.
“There will be a lot of interactive, self-guided activities,” said Whitney Perkins, assistant director of agriculture, development, and innovation, who is heading up the organization’s presence at the fair. “We’ve geared the content in a way that everyone can learn something.”
Children will be able to get hands on and match products with corresponding agriculture commodities through a tactile My Plate activity board. In addition, they can rotate through various Virginia farming facts on a silo equipped with a digital display and tractor steering wheel.