SALEM, ORE. – For the 28th year in a row, volunteer producers, association staff, agriculture related vendors and 4-H and FFA club members stepped up to help Ag Fest educate thousands of children and adults about the agriculture connection to the food and fiber they rely upon every day. In addition to the usual hands-on agricultural experiences like digging for potatoes, planting marigolds to take home and watching chicks hatch, this year’s two-day event included an expanded petting zoo in the animal barn, an accredited llama show and sale and new sponsors that stepped up to help for the first time.
Sherry Kudna, past Ag Fest chair and executive assistant to Oregon Department of Agriculture director Katy Coba, spoke of the successful event from her station in the Information Booth in Cascade Hall. Between fielding questions from volunteers and the public and responding to requests for help finding lost children, she had nothing but praise for everyone involved.
“We are so grateful to our sponsors and were thrilled to add Franz Bread and Home Depot this year,” Sherry said. “One of the most popular activities was Home Depot’s kids workshop program that first taught the kids about tools and led them through the process of building a miniature tool box. It was designed for five-to-12 year olds but they didn’t exclude younger or older people.
“Among the more than 800 volunteers, we had an increase in Willamette Valley 4-H and FFA volunteers this year. They were a big help and so professional. Between the good weather and good coverage from Channels 2, 8 and 12, we are reaching a lot of families.”
First time Ag Fest visitor Jessica Morgan and her husband brought their young daughters and made a day of it.
“We are amazed at this event,” Jessica said. “Our girls are two and five. We started with the breakfast and then moved out to the hands-on activities and then out to see the animals. I can see that we are going to be here all day. It is definitely the best family value event around.”
Many of the nearly 18,000 people who attend Ag Fest are given their first introduction to what agriculture means, and how it is important to each and every one. The event is aimed at educating children but many of the parents are learning things for the first time as well.
Oregon is unique in bringing the farm to the people and in doing so thousands are learning about Oregon’s vast agricultural industry while finding it educational and entertaining. Where else can you pet a sheep and watch it sheared of its fleece in the barn and then go into the wool booth and die it with blackberry Kool-Aid. Mark your calendars now for the last weekend in April for Ag Fest 2016.
More information is available by visiting www.oragfest.com