Oklahoma's Old Fashion Fair Offers New Fashion Fun with a Modern Take on Ag's Best TraditionsMon, 17 Sep 2018 12:04:38 CDT
Things are starting to pick up at the Great State Fair of Oklahoma, with this year’s event having kicked off on Thursday of last week. The weekend ushered in crowds from across the state all eager to participate in the fun that is synonymous with the fair. One of the biggest draws to both rural and urban fairgoers, is the fair’s agricultural component. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn sat down with State Fair Vice President Gina Burchfiel to talk about some of the fair’s time-honored agricultural traditions and the new ones being made. You can listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“Agriculture has been part of the fair since it first came around and so we want to keep that tradition here,” Burchfiel said. “One of the ways we do that is certainly through the livestock shows. But, I think the livestock shows are just one arm of the wheel of what we try to do here at the fair. It relates to people how farmers work with their animals in real life situations and how animals fit into the farm to market message- and then we tie that in to some other areas like our AgTropolis exhibit where again in a more relaxed and noncompetitive environment the public can learn that agriculture isn’t just about what ends up on your plate at the end of the day but that it touches every aspect our lives.”
In addition to the opportunity to enjoy fun foods and rides, the chance to see and interact with animals and the different segments of the ag industry, Burchfiel says, ranks up there in the top three attractions for the fair. The combined educational and entertainment goal though is one that the fair continues to expound on. Oklahoma’s youth involved in agriculture make up a great deal of this through the livestock shows and judging contests, but the fair also hosts many open shows which allow both youth and adults to engage in the fun. Burchfiel says the fair has also begun promoting some relatively new events such as stock dog trials and skill-a-thons that offer kids with other talents a chance to shine in a non-traditional competitive setting. She says this is all part of an effort to offer a wide breadth of opportunities that can appeal to any and all who wish to participate. Burchfiel adds that the fair’s inclusiveness makes it the perfect venue to showcase many of agriculture’s lesser known niche segments that rarely get the attention they deserve. The undertaking in doing so is so massive in fact that Burchfiel says without the rural community’s direct involvement, the task would be impossible to execute.
“We absolutely could not tell the whole story without those people giving their time and their expertise to make us be able to do what we do,” she said in appreciation of the many volunteers who serve as fair superintendents, advisors and judges.
A new addition to the fair though in recent years, has exploded and truly completes the full portrait of the ag industry here in Oklahoma. Although it has existed at the fair in one form or another for a while now, the Made in Oklahoma Store actually became a reality last year and has returned in 2018 to showcase the products of more than 50 local vendors, located inside the Bennett Event Center at the fairgrounds.
“The Made in Oklahoma Store, I always phrase it as a labor of love project between the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture and the Oklahoma State Fair,” she said. “It sprouts from vendors who are part of the Made in Oklahoma program at the Dept. of Agriculture. Sale are already ahead of last year, so people are finding it and showing their appreciation of the Oklahoma vendors by making their purchases there. So, I encourage everyone to come check it out and stop by the barns and just see what all the fair has to offer.”
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