AgLand: Commodities galore at the state fair

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AgLand brings back more than an acre of agriculture exhibits at the Kentucky State Fair this year. And several commodity groups geared up to be featured in South Wing A, where the state’s farm and field heritage are highlighted at the Kentucky Expo Center, including the future of agribusiness through 4-H and FFA exhibits. Groups like corn, wheat and small grain growers associations will be on-hand, including the Soybean Association and Kentucky Pork Producers partnering up to get their messages out.  

Becky Kinder has been with the Kentucky Soybean Board for almost two decades now. “It’ll be 19 years, next week …” Kinder said, and all those years she’s been education director for the Soybean Association. 

So she’s particularly excited about some new offerings the association will have in AgLand at the state fair. But also about some favorites from last year. 

“This is the second year we will have the ‘Pork N Beans – together we’re makin’ bacon’ theme,” Kinder said, about soy partnering up with the Kentucky Pork Producers. 

She said collaborating with pork makes an easy connection with consumers and farmers alike. 

“The majority of people like bacon, and soybeans are mostly known for animal feed, but it’s used quite often in our food, too,” Kinder said, so this tie-in works out great. “They can learn about both commodities this way, so it works for all of us.” 

They are also bringing back Pork N Beango, where Kinder said cards can be found at both associations’ booths. “And we have the answers to the questions at each booth, so if they go around they can get all the answers and form a bingo, then turn those in for a prize.” Prizes include things like barbecue rub packets and basting brushes, all branded with the Pork’N Beans logo. 

“And something brand new we’re doing – a new activity book featuring Buddy the Bean, our mascot,” Kinder said. It contains activities for kids pre-K through sixth grade. 

“There’s a variety of activities in it, in relation to soy. They can do anything from making animal puppets to puzzles, word searches, to animal agriculture and activities about biodiesel.” 

On the back of the grain bin at their booth, Kinder said they will have magnetic photo frames attached, with a banner for the Kentucky Livestock Coalition, that includes all of the members. 

“So around that in the frames, we have Kentucky farm families featured, from various livestock and grain operations …” Kinder said they asked the member organizations to submit photos, and they obliged. “It really works out well. People take the time to stop and look through them, and most of them are like ‘Hey, I know them…’” 

Rae Wagoner, communication director for the soybean association, said that interestingly enough, KLC is run through soy’s office. 

“And since the coalition is made up of organizations that – most of them – are already exhibiting at AgLand, we wanted to use the space on our grain bin to spotlight some of the outstanding Kentucky farm families that are raising your food, your food’s food, and the fuel and fiber we need,” Wagoner said. 

Kinder said aside from advocating for and educating about soy, and making sure people know where their food comes from, it’s also important to pull kids into the cause at a young age. 

“They are the next generation, and one of our priorities is education. Making sure consumers know where their food comes from, what farmers are doing day-in and day-out to provide for us all. Soy provides food for animals, sure, but also for us. And fuel for vehicles, materials for crayons …”

Another new addition will be Hempwood Flooring, Kinder said, which will be set up at the soy association booth. Headquartered in Murray, the company uses materials grown within 100 miles of its factory there, including soy flower. 

“That’s something else that’s new and recently came out, so we’re excited they’ll be with us,” Kinder said. She said including innovators like Hempwood helps to further educate and pull in more consumers. 

“We want to pull all types in,” she said. “We’re all consumers, and with soy, it’s involved in a wide variety of things.” 

Jennifer Elwell, executive director of the Kentucky Agriculture and Environment in the Classroom, said among many others, the state’s wheat industry will also be on display in AgLand. 

“In addition to general wheat facts, the Kentucky Small Grain Growers will feature several baked good recipes that visitors can take home and try,” Elwell said, who is also executive secretary for the Kentucky Agricultural Council. 

Elwell also shared information from the Kentucky Corn Growers Association, including a new display sharing environmental improvement statements from the National Corn Growers’ Sustainability Report. “Corn facts” will also be served with roasted sweet corn in the Great Kentucky Proud Cookout Tent, and KyCorn teamed up again with KDA to hand-out Kentucky Proud popcorn to thousands. 

“All About Careers in Agriculture” is another new offering in AgLand, Elwell said, with KAEC teaming up with the Ag Council on the Kentucky Agriculture Works display and interactive career finder. She said visitors can complete a digital career quiz, provided by National FFA Ag Explorer, and professionals will help point them in the right direction to prepare. 

The Kentucky State Fair runs Aug. 17-27 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville. To find out more about exhibitions in AgLand, visit kystatefair.org/agriculture/agland. 

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