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Seeding Change Harvest Stories

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Seeding Change Harvest Stories
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How have IAFE fairs seeded change in their community? Read the stories below to learn about how fairs have formed positive community partnerships. Want to add your story? Fill out the above form and submit to with a chance to win $1,000 in grant money by Etix.

  • Brown County Fair, De Pere, Wisconsin

    This year, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Wisconsin 4-H, Brown County Fair officials decided to build a canned food mosaic in the shape of the 4-H clover. De Pere High School students designed the mosaic in an industrial technology class. Once the design was complete, the officials determined what food cans they would need to color in the green clover and white 4-H lettering. They chose green beans and white potatoes. The fair raised $1,800 from community organizations to purchase canned goods from Larry's Piggly Wiggly at cost. The mosaic, when completed the Saturday before the fair began, stood approximately 10 feet tall and 8.5 feet in length, and three cans of food wide. A total of 2,940 cans were used in the mosaic. The display, which stood during the entire eight-day run of the fair, provided recognition for the 4-H program in a prominent manner. At the conclusion of the fair, the canned goods were donated to five local food pantries. Because the solicitation of funds for canned goods was more then successful, the fair also made a donation of more than $500 to the Brown County Food & Hunger Network. The fair also donated to De Pere High School for designing the structure.

  • Herkimer County Fair, Frankfort, New York

    For the past 15 years, the Herkimer County Fair has hosted fifth graders for the annual Herkimer County Farm & Home Safety Day. This year, 17 presenters delivered safety presentations to 600 fifth graders at the fairgrounds. Topics included farm safety, electrical safety, animal safety, ATV safety, 911, 811, disability awareness, fire safety, lawn equipment safety, pool and water safety, poison plant safety, Lyme disease and rabies awareness, and first aid. The final presentation is a demonstration on how quickly someone can be injured in a tractor power take-off. The day begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 1:30 p.m. Volunteers from the fairgrounds are on site all day to assist with the final demonstration. The Herkimer County Soil & Water Conservation District and various local businesses donated time and gifts for the children’s gift baskets.

  • Kansas State Fair, Hutchinson

    In 2014, the Kansas State Fair, Hutchinson, held the "Bedazzle Your Bra" contest as a fun and creative way to generate breast cancer awareness and collect funds for the support of cancer victims. The organization chosen to benefit from the fundraiser was Victory in the Valley, a non profit support organization with the mission to assist and encourage cancer patients and families in Wichita and throughout Kansas. A $5 entry fee was required for each bra entry and was collected by the Kansas State Fair. 4-H clubs and Kansans were encouraged to enter in any of the three categories: Pretty 'N Pink, Agriculture, and Most Creative. A fashion show was scheduled for the final day of the fair. Nine firemen from Hutchinson and Andover, Kansas modeled the winning undergarments. More than 100 bedazzled brassieres were entered into the competitive events department. More than 500 ballots were collected for the "People's Choice: award and raised more than $800. The total collected and donated to Victory in the Valley was $1,770. After the event, the fair received an e-mail from Janene Gillien, who is and has sisters who are cancer survivors, which stated "Please continue this event and watch it grow!"

  • Herkimer County Fair, Frankfort, New York

    The New York Whitesboro division of Relay for Life, an organization that raises funds for the American Cancer Society by putting on a variety of events, was in need of a stage for announcements, sound, and presentations. The Herkimer County Fair recently purchased a small, portable stage. Fair officials offered the stage at no cost to Relay for Life and the fair president used his personal truck to deliver the stage to the site of the Relay for Life event, which was 25 miles away. Relay organizers sent a thank-you note to the fair and said it was a great asset for the event. The fair was also acknowledged with a sign at the site and a mile marker on the Relay walk.

  • Monroe County Fair, Tomah, Wisconsin

    A new AgVenture Pavilion was built this year at the Monroe County Fair in conjunction with the City of Tomah Parks & Recreation Department. The main purpose of the multi-purpose shelter is to house a small animal learning center during the fair and feature a seating area for visitors during the National Tractor Pull in June. The small animal learning center features live animals and educational posters with facts and picture descriptions. The fair also had a Learn and Earn program that had 4-H groups giving clues to fairgoers, who would search the grounds for the answers. This activity was designed to educate the public about agriculture's value in an entertaining manner. Over the past year, numerous community groups, including local clubs, elderly groups, and handicapped individual groups, have visited the learning center and are eager to return. The facility was built next to a new park/playground, which was community-built with donations from local businesses. The new building and park were designed with flexibility in mind for year-round use.

  • Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City, Florida

    In 2010, the Florida Strawberry Festival began partnering with Stingray Chevrolet to raise funds for local charity Unity in the Community by giving away a brand new car. Stingray Chevrolet donates a vehicle that is displayed at the festival. Officials from Unity in the Community sell raffle tickets for $5 a ticket during the festival, which hosts more than 500,000 visitors over 11-days each year. In 2014, Stingray Chevrolet donated a Chevrolet Silverado and $110,000 was raised for Unity in the Community. Over the past five years, a total of $510,000 has been raised for Unity in the Community.

  • Dubuque County Fair, Dubuque, Iowa

    Since 2010, the Dubuque County Fair in Dubuque, Iowa, has served free dinners to Honor Flight veterans, spouses, guardians, and staff. Ten Honor Flights have taken World War II and Korean War veterans to their respective memorials in Washington D.C. The fair provides the sendoff dinners and it is the first time the veterans meet their guardians. Fair staff and board members prepare and serve the meals. A program with the dinner and entertainment is provided. Over the past four years, more than 3,000 people have been served at no cost to the Honor Flight program.

  • St. Lucie County Fair, Fort Pierce, Florida

    For the past three years, officials at the St. Lucie County Fair had a desire to help as many non-profits in their community as possible, but the sheer volume of fundraising events made it impossible for fair representatives to be available at them all. The fair made gift baskets using St. Lucie County Fair tote bags and filling them with fair-branded materials, sunscreen, an umbrella, and vouchers for fair gate and ride tickets. The value of the basket range from $75 to $300, depending on the event. Rather than waiting to be solicited for a donation, fair officials pro-actively donate the baskets before being asked. The community non-profits are usually thankful and surprised at the offer and often send thank you notes.

  • Morrison County Fair, Little Falls, Minnesota

    Since 2012, the Morrison County Fair has held Kinship Kids Day for children of all ages in region as well as parents, grandparents, and teacher to take part in a fun educational and agricultural experience at no cost. Attendees had an opportunity to milk a ceramic cow named Maggie and afterward received a cheese stick and yogurt. A replica of a sheep had wool on one side and a slick shear on the other with wool products in display nearby. Live animals including chicks, goats, ponies, ducks, and rabbits were available to be touched and petted. A chicken feeding demonstration paired with children putting eggs in a carton illustrated the farm-to-store message the Kinship kids Day was trying to impress. Organizers felt the day was a success and they could build on it for future projects.

  • Herkimer County Fair, Frankfort, New York

    The 4-H programs in Herkimer, Madison, and Oneida counties (N.Y.) needed a facility to hold the first ever Mohawk Valley 4-H Dairy and Livestock Show and Sale. The show and sale would allow 4-H members to show their animals with a judge and sell their market animals after the show to earn money for college, to buy another animal, and support the 4-H program. The Herkimer County Fair donated use of their facilities including the cattle pavilion and the sheep pavilion to house the animals. The fair also provided a stage, tables and chairs, bleachers, bathrooms, and showers. The event proved successful and the 4-H program has requested the use of the facility for next year and would like to expand to goats and rabbits.

  • Sibley County Fair, Arlington, Minnesota

    In 2013, the Sibley County Fair began working with football player Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors. The charity constructs new homes that accommodate physical disabilities for veterans wounded in combat. The fair worked with Phenom Genetics to establish a bull riding event to raise money for Homes for Wounded Warriors. Organizers set up six gates and 39 pens, a stage for a band, and a food stand in preparation. Food, drinks, and equipment were brought in and local businesses provided portable lighting for the event. Advanced tickets to the event were sold out, so 800 seats were added before the start of the bull riding event. A total of 2,400 people showed up for the fundraising event. With $2 per ticket sold, and auction proceeds, and audience donations, the fair was able to write a check to Homes for Wounded Warriors for $18,000. Plans have begun for the 2015 Homes for Wounded Warriors Bull Riding Event, which will be held Sept. 5.

  • Ak-Sar-Ben's River City Rodeo and Stock Show, Omaha, Nebraska

    Since 1991, the Ak-Sar-Ben Friends membership dues have funded the community grant program for the Ak-Sar-Ben River City Rodeo and Stock Show in Omaha, Neb. The community grant program targets communities throughout Nebraska in need of financial assistance to complete betterment projects. The program awards up to $7,000 annually to community projects, benefiting more than 80 communities. Projects have included renovating 4-H livestock barns and stalling areas, rebuilding grandstand areas, creating sitting areas on the fairgrounds, and building children’s play areas on the grounds. In 2013, the community grants program awarded funding for projects to eight communities. These communities completed betterment projects at local parks, children's theaters, tourism venues, and fairgrounds. The funding helped the venues increase revenue and better their respective communities.

  • DuPage County Fair, Wheaton, Illinois

    In 2010, the DuPage County Fair in Wheaton Ill., asked fairgoers and supporters to make and donate pillowcases for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. A total of 139 pillowcases were donated. In 2014, the fair will accept pillowcases to donate to the Central DuPage Hospital Cancer Center and the Elmhurst Memorial Cancer Center. The fair is promoting the program on their website and asking for colorful pillowcases that aren't flannel fabric or store bought. Each person donating a pillowcase will receive one free admission with a paid adult admission at the gate.

  • Piedmont Interstate Fair, Spartanburg, South Carolina

    The Piedmont Interstate Fair hosts the Goodfellows food drive and fundraiser each year. The Spartanburg Herald Journal organizes and runs the food drive, with local columnist Lou Parris in charge of this fundraiser that distributes large bags of food to the needy and food insecure in the community during the Christmas season. This past year, they raised more than $73,000 to fund the project. The Piedmont Interstate Fair donates the use of its employees, grounds, and facilities to house the food items, which arrive in giant transfer trucks.

    In one day and night, hundreds of volunteers pack the huge bags with canned food, other staples, and fresh fruit. The next day, other volunteers including local high school football teams, place these bags in the cars of the recipients as they drive through the fairgrounds. The spaciousness of the fairgrounds lends to quality vehicle traffic control.

  • Piedmont Interstate Fair, Spartanburg, South Carolina

    The Piedmont Interstate Fair partners with The Baptist Network or an individual church to provide services to traveling carnival workers when they are in Spartanburg. The purpose of the ministry is to show the carnival workers that they are an important and appreciated part of the annual fair.

    The services that the church offers are numerous and have been provided in this form since 2009. During set-up day, the fair and church provide a hot lunch, which usually consists of hamburgers and hotdogs, baked beans, slaw and desserts. During the fair, the church has a booth at the fair where free drinks and homemade snacks are offered and workers can bring any problems they might be experiencing. Free haircuts are offered to all workers on one day of the fair. Health issues are addressed and include free transportation and appointment setting with local doctors. The organization tries to help with dental work whenever a carnival worker is experiencing tooth pain. One year, a church member noticed a carnival worker that had his thick glasses held together by duct tape. The ministry offered an appointment with an eye doctor and paid for new glasses. The program assists an estimated 100-125 people each year.

  • Greater Baton Rouge State Fair, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    The Greater Baton Rouge State Fair in Baton Rouge, La., has provided funds for more than 50 charitable and non-profit organizations that benefit families, children, and the elderly via grants from the Baton Rouge State Fair Foundation. Beginning in 1985, the fair has operated the Foundation, which uses proceeds from the fair and donates them through worthy-cause grants. Organizations that have received grants in the past have included CASA, Boys & Girls Club of America, St. Vincent DePaul's Back to School Uniform Drive, the burn unit at Baton Rouge General Hospital, and more. In addition to providing grants, the fair presents scholarships to high school students who are nominated by their schools in recognition of their volunteer efforts. The fair bought a playground area for the Baton Rouge Zoo. To date, the fair has donated more than $2.5 million.

  • Orleans County 4-H Fair, Albion, New York

    The Orleans County 4-H Fair in Albion, N.Y., wanted to promote farm grown food at the fair. Organizers provided vendors with an 8.5-by 11-inch sign that stated "This vendor proudly uses food grown on a farm." The sign had space for stickers, provided by the fair, that that had a graphic and description for each ingredient the vendor used. Fair organizers titled this campaign "Food. Farms. Fairs."

    The signs were on display in booths throughout the fair to educate the public on the connection between growers and fair food. Fair organizers encouraged the vendors to keep the signs and use them at other events. This allowed the fair to reach an audience after fair time and beyond the region. Vendors reported that fairgoers took note of the signs and that parents explained the signs to their children.

    Fair officials hope to produce nicer, laminated signs and higher quality stickers in the future and share the program with other fairs. Organizers plan to contact a graphic design company to ensure high quality signage. They also plan to develop larger posters to explain the program to fairgoers and direct them to online resources.

  • Barron County Fair
    Rice Lake, Wisconsin

    The Barron County Fair in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, has taken steps to ensure environmental responsibility. In 2010, the fair installed a French drain to direct rainwater away from concession stands. Later the fair installed four drains in the infield of the dirt race track to keep run off water from dirtying the nearby lake. In addition, the fair installed water holding tanks for the livestock area to collect water for the livestock to use. The tank can be set to collect or not collect depending on the time of year.

    Beginning this year, the fair is partnering with the Boys and Girls Club to sell advanced tickets. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the club and the fair hopes it will help increase attendance.

  • Eastern States Exposition
    West Springfield, Massachusetts

    The Eastern States Exposition (ESE) in West Springfield, Massachusetts, has partnered with retailer Table & Vine for the past two years to put on the 5K Grape Chase Road Race. The 5K course ran through the ESE grounds. The road race is the first part of a daylong celebration.

    Following the race, the "Taste of Table & Vine" was held at the ESE Young Building. The event included 400 wines, 100 craft beers, gourmet food samples, and a special Connoisseurs' Room with selected specialty offerings. Tickets to the Taste were $45 in advance, $50 at the door, and $75 for access to the Connoisseurs' Room. Funds raised through the race and the Taste event benefitted the West Springfield Parish Cupboard, the West Springfield Partnership for Education, and the Big E Farm to Table Education.

  • Bremer County Fair
    Waverly Iowa

    In 2013, the Bremer County Fair in Waverly, Iowa introduced a Tuff Truck competition and gave military veterans free admission. For 2014, the fair is working to start a recycling program. They have applied for a recycling grant to fund the effort. In addition, Bremer County Fair officials are reaching out to nearby Black Hawk County 4-H and FFA Fair in Waterloo, Iowa, for assistance.

  • DuPage County Fair
    Wheaton, Illinois

    In 2010, the DuPage County Fair Board Members Jim McGuire and Carey Peterson began a dog rescue adoption event during the five-day fair. Area animal shelters bring adoptable dogs to the fair in the hopes of matching them with a home. The 2013 adoption event helped more than 20 dogs find a home, which was nearly 10 more dogs than in 2012. The adoption goal in 2014 is for 30 dogs to find homes.

    The adoption area is set up near the entry gate to get fairgoers' attention as they enter the fair. Dog Patch Pet and Feed of Naperville sponsor the event and offer each adopting family a gift card to their respective stores.

  • DuPage County Fair
    Wheaton, Illinois

    When Lorri Beck, a young volunteer and 4-H mother, was diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of cancer, officials at the Kissimmee Valley Livestock Show (KVLS) & Osceola County Fair in Kissimmee, Florida, took the lead in making the difficult situation easier on her and her family. By October 2013, Ms. Beck was wheelchair bound. There was no easy way to get her in and out of her house in the wheelchair. KVLS members and staff planned a work day to build a wheelchair ramp and to get the family barn in top shape so Ms. Beck could have a nice view of the family animals and see that they were being taken care of.

    More than 50 volunteers showed up on the work day. While the family was encouraged to spend the day away from the residence at their daughter's soccer tournament, the work group built a new front porch and ramp to help Ms. Black enter and exit her home. Volunteers repaired the chicken coop and hog pen, mucked the horse stalls, and installed new protective anti-fatigue mats in the horse stalls. Young 4-H kids gave the dogs baths and planted flowers. Several volunteers cleaned the house, finished the laundry, and cooked several meals and put them in the freezer. A meal train was organized to deliver hot meals to the family three days a week and a collection was taken up to help defer medical costs. After spreading the word about the situation in newsletters and e-mails, members were able to sell daughter Marina Beck's hog for a record $28 a pound. Those funds will go toward Marina's college fund.

    The local Home Depot donated the lumber and building supplies for the project. Rental World donated the use of machinery and other equipment necessary for the work day. Kissimmee Valley Feed and Ranch supplied feed and other necessities for the animals.

  • DuPage County Fair
    Wheaton, Illinois

    In 2010, the DuPage County Fair in Wheaton Illinois, asked fairgoers and supporters to make and donate pillowcases for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. A total of 139 pillowcases were donated. In 2014, the fair will accept pillowcases to donate to the Central DuPage Hospital Cancer Center and the Elmhurst Memorial Cancer Center. The fair is promoting the program on their website and asking for colorful pillowcases that aren’t flannel fabric or store bought. Each person donating a pillowcase will receive one free admission with a paid adult admission at the gate.

  • South Dakota State Fair
    Huron, South Dakota

    In 2004, the South Dakota State Fair, Huron, added an educational program that complimented the school curriculums. The South Dakota’s Largest Classroom was created around the notion that programs brought in for the two-day event would focus on math, science, reading, and/or history. Major backers of the program are South Dakota superintendents.

    During their field trip, students are able to tour a variety of educational "learning centers." These learning centers teach students about science, agriculture, technology, and more. The children have the opportunity to learn in a hands-on environment and see exhibits that may not always be available to individual school districts with limited budgets. Specific programs that will be part of the learning centers offer follow-up materials for teachers to incorporate into their everyday curriculums. This program is free to students, teachers, and chaperones, and lunch is provided. In 2013, more than 1,000 students were able to participate in the program.

  • South Dakota State Fair
    Huron, South Dakota

    The South Dakota State Fair in Huron, hosts a wide variety of health screenings during the annual fair for fairgoers of all ages from children to senior citizens. The fair has offered free hearing screenings for senior citizens since 1998. Since then, the hearing screenings have expanded to include children including 4-H members. In addition, the fair hosts a Talking Library, which provides a service where volunteers read to elderly people or those who are visually or hearing impaired and provides books in Braille.

    The fair also hosts Sanford Health, which provides mobile heart and vascular screenings for a small fee. In the future, South Dakota State Fair officials plan to offer PSA screenings, which tests for susceptibility to prostate cancer, and mammogram screenings. These programs were previously offered and officials have seen a demand for these programs to return.

  • Solano County Fair
    Vallejo, California

    The Solano County Fair in Vallejo, California, has hosted local youth for a Youth Ag Day for the past 12 years. The event is designed to introduce the wonders of science and agriculture to the youth in the county. In 2014, about 3,500 third-graders from 150 classrooms across the county attended Youth Ag Day -- this was a record attendance. Children and their chaperones had an opportunity to participate in activities such as a puppet show with a slice of pizza as a lead character, and learning about Penny the Cow’s digestive system. Students are also able to come into contact with animals and make arts and crafts with legumes. Students carried a sheet with animal silhouettes that was stamped as they moved from station to station.

  • Tennessee Valley Fair
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    In 2011, the Tennessee Valley Fair in Knoxville began supporting HonorAir Knoxville in conjunction with "Hometown Heroes Day." HonorAir Knoxville flies East Tennessee World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington D.C., to see the memorials built in their honor. In 2013, the fair raised funds by donating a portion of each ticket sold to a Randy Houser concert, raising $2,000, which funds flights for four veterans. In addition, current and past military, police officers, deputy sheriffs, firefighters, first responders and teachers were admitted to Hometown Heroes Day for the special admission price of $1.00.

  • Tennessee Valley Fair
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    The Tennessee Valley Fair in Knoxville has raised money to benefit the East Tennessee Children's Hospital for the past eight years. All proceeds from the sale of reserved seating at the Fairest of the Fair Pageant benefit the hospital. Additionally, the fair hosts "Hair at the Fair," where Great Clips, Inc., provides free haircuts to fairgoers in exchange for donations to the hospital. In 2013, the fair raised $5,044 for the children's hospital.

  • Tennessee Valley Fair
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    In 2010, the fair began financially supporting the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Knoxville Affiliate primarily through the “Bedazzle Your Bra” contest. Fairgoers decorate bras in support of the organization in a variety of wacky categories. The contest was included in the fair's competitive exhibit handbook and promoted by a local television station. A record 70 entries were received in 2013 raising more than $2,000 for Komen Knoxville.

  • Tennessee Valley Fair
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    The Tennessee Valley Fair in Knoxville supports local charities through fundraising and community awareness efforts. On the first Sunday of the Tennessee Valley Fair, $1 for every ride wristband sold benefits The Love Kitchen. The Love Kitchen provides meals, clothing, and emergency food packages to homebound, homeless, and unemployed persons. For more than 10 years, the fair, along with midway provider Wade Shows, has supported this fundraiser, which raises approximately $6,000 a year.

  • Clay County Fair
    Spencer, Iowa

    The Clay County Fair gives local non-profits and youth organizations a free, year-round venue for educational opportunities. Reins of Hope uses the indoor arena in the winter months as a home for therapeutic horseback riding for disabled youth. During the summer, local 4-H clubs use the fairgrounds for weekly dog obedience training and horsemanship classes. Each May, nearly 200 elementary students participate in Farm Safety Day, a cooperative effort of the fair, Extension Service, and Farm Bureau. Prior to Christmas, one of the exhibit buildings is used as a storage depot for a local outreach that provides Christmas gifts for needy families.

  • San Mateo County Fair
    San Mateo, California

    In 2014, the San Mateo County Fair in San Mateo, Calif., was awarded a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) grant from the State of California. Fair officials will use the grant to fund an education program for children at lower income area schools and at the fair. The target audience is students from four San Mateo public schools that receive at least 50% free and reduced lunch and low-income families.

    The fair is developing school garden programs for Fiesta Gardens. Fair officials can use the gardens to teach the children about the “farm to fork” process and encourage the schools to enter their gardens in a contest at the fair. The fair will provide two of the schools with gardening essentials such as seeds, gardening gloves, and mulch, so they can plant vegetable and fruit seeds. The gardening project will be documented on the fair website through a school garden blog with photos and descriptions of the process. The fair will provide lessons that consist of proper hand washing, nutrition, and a taste test. Fun packs were presented to all the students and included four fair admission tickets and one raffle tickets to win a basket of produce.

    The schools will have an opportunity to tour the fair with free admission. Teachers and students will have the opportunity to experience the Agri-Tourism exhibit. There, the local farm bureau will get local farmers to talk about the products they produce such as artichokes, Brussels sprouts, English peas, fava beans, and leeks. Cartoon characters based on the five vegetables will be created to benefit the children.

  • Washington County Fair
    Hillsboro, Oregon

    The Growing Grove exhibit made its debut at the Washington County Fair in Hillsboro, Oregon, in 2011, after the fair board adopted a mandate to have the fair take an active role in the battle against childhood obesity. The goal of the project was two fold: creating a central hub for families to connect agriculture and childhood wellness and to attract strategic sponsor partners to bring funds and an active community presence to the fair. Fair Complex Manager Leah Perkins-Hagele moved forward to create an interactive exhibit for families to connect agriculture and childhood wellness. Elisa Hays of Let's Pretend Entertainment, an expert in interactive attractions and family entertainment, was brought in to design the look and layout of the exhibit. One of the unique qualities of The Growing Grove is the amount of crossover between the paid attractions and the paying sponsors.

    The Growing Grove features interactive exhibits including vegetable characters with signage that includes trivia and QR Codes that link to healthy recipes. The Oregon Dairy Products Commission has hands-on activities that target mothers with children living at home. The Oregon Wheat Growers League sponsored Kids Kitchen Corner, which featured fresh pancakes and a wheat kernel mini-pool for children to explore the commodity. Recology, an organization that provides compost for farms and vineyards, sponsors the Grove financially and with clean compost for the Play in the Dirt area. The Oregon Athletic Club taught Zumba for Kids in the Growing Grove several times a day. Paid programs included Kid Fit, a touring program that uses exercises and high-energy coaching to run kids through obstacle courses, and the Food Hero program, provided by the OSU Extension Service and made smoothies and quick snacks in the Kids Kitchen Corner. Super Science Company provided Mother Goose's Farmyard Fun and Storyville, which had activities based on agriculture, nutrition, and literacy. In 2014, organizers will add activities that focus on anti-bullying and a Buy Local Farmer's Market.

  • Ulster County Fair
    New Paltz, New York

    A director at the Ulster County Fair in New Paltz, New York, created two cages out of scrap pieces of chain link fence to collect recyclable bottles during the fair. The holes in the cages are just large enough to fit recyclable plastic bottles and have a bottom to collect the bottles. After the fair, officials redeem the bottles at a recycling center for funds that are in turn donated to a local Christmas toy drive around Thanksgiving. The fair has been recycling for 10 years and has been using the bottle cages for the past four years.

  • Polk County Fair
    Fertile, Minnesota

    Beginning in 2011, the Polk County Fair in Fertile, Minnesota, has partnered with Polk County Public Health, Riverview Health, and the Statewide Health Improvement Program to provide an area for mothers to breastfeed, diaper change, or simply rest. The fair provides a shaded, comfortable area known as the Rock & Rest Tent that mothers and their children have access to during the duration of the fair. The health organizations provide literature on the importance of breastfeeding and other health concerns. The La Leche League of Minnesota and the Dakotas helps staff the tent and share information.

    Fair officials report that the program has received positive feedback from the users. The tent is now used at more events around the county and the program has been copies by other fairs in the area.

  • San Diego County Fair
    Del Mar, California

    The San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, California, was dedicated more than 20 acres to open space and committed more than $5 million to restore more than 10 acres of wetland habitat. The fair has reduced its greenhouse footprint by investing $4.8 million in a one megawatt photo voltaic solar array and diverting 92% of all solid waste generated on the grounds. The fair also does community outreach programs including school tours and the "Plant-Grow-Eat" program that began 25 years ago.

    The fair was recognized for its leadership in environmental stewardship. The California State Board of Equalization honored the fair at the Healthy Planet Local Hero Awards Gala.

  • Nebraska State Fair
    Grand Island, Nebraska

    Starting in 2014, the Nebraska State Fair, Grand Island, will allow state non-profit organizations to exhibit, raise awareness, and fundraise during the annual state fair. The program, called State Fair Cares, allows nonprofits across the state to raise money or awareness during the fair, which hosts more than 330,000 fairgoers annually. Organizations participating in the program must offer services in one of three categories: Agriculture, Education, Nebraska Families. The selected entries will be chosen from two distinct groups: one from non-profits whose service area has a population of 50,000 and above and one from non-profits that have a service area with a population of 50,000 and below. The first 25 from each population category will be accepted and after review, an independent panel of judges as well as the executive committee of the Nebraska State Fair board of directors will judge the top five finalists from each category.

    The Nebraska State Fair will match the dollar amount equal to the value of donations the two chosen non-profits receives at the fair, which may include money, clothing, or product, up to $10,000 for the first place entry and up to $5,000 for the second place selection. If one of the chosen groups simply wants to educate fairgoers about their organization, the State Fair will contribute $2,500 for their cause. The selected entries will receive 10 gate and parking passes and three hotel rooms for their stay. Selected entries will be notified by July 1.

  • Florida State Fair
    Tampa, Florida

    The Florida State Fair in Tampa teamed with Goodwill Industries-Suncoast to increase donations to the thrift store. People that made donations at participating Good Will-Suncoast stores received a coupon for $2 off a single adult thicket to the Florida State Fair, which ran Feb. 6-17.

  • Minnesota State Fair
    St. Paul, Minnesota

    The Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, Minnesota, as part of their monthly MSF Gives Back campaign, served as a drop off location for a spring children’s book drive. Donations collected will be split between the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) Minnesota and the Minnesota Literacy Council. Donations of new or gently-used children’s books were accepted from April 28-May 9 at the Minnesota State Fair Administration Building and the Libby Conference Center.

  • Clay County Fair
    Spencer, Iowa

    Beginning in 2012, the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa, introduced the Innovation Pavilion. Working in partnership with the Iowa Lakes Corridor, a local economic development group, the fair's Innovation Pavilion gives local entrepreneurs and innovators a forum to showcase their products and services and to demonstrate the creative process. The pavilion gives fairgoers an opportunity to see something they have never seen before

  • Ak-Sar-Ben River City Rodeo & Stock Show
    Omaha, Nebraska

    The school tours program at Ak-Sar-Ben River City Rodeo (ARCR) & Stock Show in Omaha, Neb., allows metropolitan-area third and fourth grade students the opportunity to learn more about agriculture with no additional cost to the school, including all busing costs to and from the event.

    While on the tours, students attend sessions presented by the Department of Agriculture, the Nebraska and Iowa Corn Boards, and the Nebraska Beef Council and participate in the interactive "Thank a Farmer" Magic Show. During the tour, students receive the ARCR Chronicle, a supplemental material that provides learning activities and agricultural facts.

    In 2013, more than 2,200 students participated in the school tours program. The ARCR Chonicle was distributed to more than 20,000 students. The ARCR plans to expand the program in 2014 by increasing the number of participants to 2,600-2,700.

  • DuPage County Fair
    Wheaton, Illinois

    In 2012 the DuPage County Fair in Wheaton, Ill., began collecting donations for the Haitian Health Foundation’s Give a Goat program. Jars were placed in the animal barns and tents to collect change from fairgoers during the fair to donate to the program. For every $150 raised, a pregnant goat will be purchased to donate to needy families in the Jérémie and more than 100 mountain villages in Haiti, where the average annual family income is only $300. Goats are able to adapt to Haiti's rough mountainous terrain, are easy to raise, and provide a means of self-support. Goat milk is a source of nutrition of families, manure is used as garden fertilizer, and the offspring may be sold at market, bartered for goods, or kept to increase the size of the herd.

    In 2012, the fair raised enough funds to buy two goats and two individuals donated goats to bring the total donation to four goats. In 2013, the fair again raised enough funds for two goats.

    The fair accepts donations via the mail: send checks to attention of Give a Goat program, 2015 Manchester Rd, Wheaton, IL 60187.

  • Sibley County Fair
    Arlington, Minnesota

    In June, the Sibley County Fair in Arlington, Minnesota, will allow the county's recycling campaign to conduct a drive on the grounds free of charge. Citizens can bring old tires and old appliances to the grounds to be recycled. The recycling officials need a large area for this clean-up project. Sibley county residents are able to dispose of their old appliances in a safe and environmental way while the donation of the fair property give the Sibley County Fair good will in the community.

  • South Florida Fair
    West Palm Beach, Florida

    Since 2004, the South Florida Fair in West Palm Beach hosts Ag-ucation day camps for urban youth. The fair holds two camps each year, one in the spring and one in the summer, for up to 45 youths each camp. The campers travel to local farms where farmers expose the children to their agricultural operation. It is the only educational experience of this kind in the county. Depending on the time of year, the children can see the farmer plant or harvest their agricultural commodity.

    Occasionally, the campers go to a farm to see radishes harvested. The group can then follow the trucks to a plant that cleans and processes the radishes. In March, the campers saw farmers prep sugarcane fields for harvest by lighting the field on fire to burn the dry leaves. These experiences help ensure that the local youth understand the role of agriculture in their lives.

  • DuPage County Fair
    Wheaton, Illinois

    Beginning in 2012, the DuPage County Fair has hosted a head-shaving event for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which is committed to raising funds for childhood cancer research. For the head-shaving events, participants set a financial goal and if it is reached, their head is shaved in a fun, public celebration at the fair that includes live music, drinks, food, and rides. The fair raised $11,000 in 2012 and $14,200 in 2013. The fair has set a goal of raising $16,000 in 2014. One participant has set a goal to personally raise $10,000.

  • Ak-Sar-Ben River City Rodeo & Stock Show
    Omaha, Nebraska

    Ak-Sar-Ben Friends, the membership arm of the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben Foundation, has been running its Community Grant program since 1991. The grant program has provided more than $60,000 to more than 80 communities that require financial assistance to complete community betterment projects.

    Several Nebraska county fairgrounds have benefited from the grant program and have made improvements to livestock arenas, wash areas, carnival rides, sitting areas, recreational and youth play areas, and entertainment grandstands. Other projects awarded grants include the renovation of city parks, improvements to disabled housing, and expanding a children’s theater program.

    Grants are open to any non-profit organization in Nebraska and Northern Iowa and are awarded based on demonstration of emerging community need and proposed implementation of the project.

    In addition, priority funding is given to proposals that provide matching funds to support the project; respond to a demonstrated or emerging community need; support effective, proven or promising solutions; and build upon and maximize other community resources.

    Future plans for the Community Grant program include incorporating the program into a larger revenue stream, either through a fundraiser, membership drive, or combination of each.

  • Great Frederick Fair
    Frederick, Maryland

    The Great Frederick Fair is committed to making agriculture education a year-round endeavor. In March 2014, the fair partnered with Frederick County Public Schools, specifically Spring Ridge Elementary School, to host a non-traditional Ag Expo with a focus on life and environmental sciences. Incorporating the fair's theme of "Connecting the Dots in Agriculture," fifth grade students increased their understanding of science content for life, environmental science, and engineering.

    Students were taught how to connect the dots in agriculture through bees and pollination. The daylong ag expo at The E-ventplex, home of the Great Frederick Fair, took students through 12 different learning stations, ranging from bee equipment and the hive body to parts of a flower, invasive species, and composting. Students were able to connect the dots from pollination to foods that were provided in a lunch box program. Students also participated in The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, where students made hand pollinators and were encouraged to exhibit them in the farm and garden building at the fairgrounds. Other activities available in the learning stations included learning about aquaponics gardening, researching a nearby food desert where it's difficult to buy affordable quality fresh food, and building birdhouses. The entire Ag Expo was mad possible through a local ag education grant and the goods and services of collaborators.

  • Central Washington State Fair
    Yakima, Washington

    Since 1998, the Central Washington State Fair in Yakima has hosted the Reading Roundup program for Yakima Valley students.

    Beginning at the start of the school year in September until three days prior to the opening of the fair, students in Kindergarten through fifth grade are challenged to read 300 minutes or more. A parent or guardian must complete Student Tally Sheet.

    Around 17,000 students are eligible for this program and each has 18 days to complete the challenge. Students that complete the challenge receive a coupon that can be redeemed any day of the fair for a $1.00 youth ticket. Participating teachers may exchange a coupon for a $3.00 adult admission.

    In 1998, 20% of eligible students participated in the program. In 2013, 40% achieved the goal, including a total 6,900 students reading 2,373,520 minutes. Many teachers in the program use the Reading Roundup as part of their lesson plan at the beginning of the school year.

  • Piedmont Interstate Fair
    Spartanburg, South Carolina

    The Piedmont Interstate Fair hosts the Goodfellows food drive and fundraiser each year. The Spartanburg Herald Journal organizes and runs the food drive, with local columnist Lou Parris in charge of this fundraiser that distributes large bags of food to the needy and food insecure in the community during the Christmas season. This past year, they raised more than $73,000 to fund the project. The Piedmont Interstate Fair donates the use of its employees, grounds, and facilities to house the food items, which arrive in giant transfer trucks.

    In one day and night, hundreds of volunteers pack the huge bags with canned food, other staples, and fresh fruit. The next day, other volunteers including local high school football teams, place these bags in the cars of the recipients as they drive through the fairgrounds. The spaciousness of the fairgrounds lends to quality vehicle traffic control.

  • Robert Smith Presents, LLC

    After the birth of his son Nathan in 2010, Robert Smith and his wife Sara both felt appreciative that their newborn was born healthy and well. To show their appreciation, they decided that Robert Smith Presents would provide a free show at children's hospitals near the fairs that the production is scheduled to attend. Smith wanted to bring the fair to children too sick to make it to the fair themselves. They named the program Nathan's Gift. There's no cost for the program and any hospital near tour stops is eligible.

    The children's hospital program debuted at the Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando and was presented on behalf of the Lake County Fair in Eustis, Fla. For half an hour, the children smiled and laughed with the fair acts. Children in the oncology wing who were too sick to attend the group show received personal visits from Smith.

    Three years after the program's debut, Smith has been able to connect with half a dozen hospitals across the country and looks forward to expanding the program this year.

  • Delaware State Fair
    Harrington, Delaware

    The Mid-Del Charitable Foundation, the foundation established to consolidate the charitable undertakings of the Delaware State Fair, Harrington, and the Harrington Raceway, Inc., supports organizations and activities involving agricultural, civic, and social needs in the State of Delaware. The foundation's board of directors oversees all grant-making and awards grants for charitable purposes to non-profit organizations having a 501(c)3 designation. The recipients of these grants represent a wide variety charitable efforts, including health and human services, the arts, agriculture, education and the environment.

    The most recent recipients of these grants include a hospice, a police department, cancer support organizations, an art museum, a golf association scholarship fund, an FFA foundation, and a senior center.

  • Lethbridge & District Exhibition
    Lethbridge, Alberta

    The Safety City Society of Lethbridge and Area was a non-profit organization that delivered personal safety programs to elementary-aged students since 1995. On Jan. 1, 2013, Safety City was dissolved and became part of Lethbridge Exhibition Park event programming, to ensure the continued development and delivery of personal safety programs. Prior to joining Lethbridge Exhibition Park, Safety City was completely reliant on donations. Becoming a part of the exhibition park’s educational programming alleviated financial restrictions and enhanced future opportunities.

    The mandate of the Exhibition Park’s Safety City is to work with the community and youth to offer education and instruction classes to keep them safe. Educational topics include bullying and cyber bullying, bike safety, pedestrian safety, street smarts, water safety, Halloween safety, and quad safety. Farm safety and Internet safety will be added later this year. In addition, Exhibition Park Safety City owns and operates the only Rollover Simulator (ROS) in Southern Alberta. The ROS demonstrates the importance of seatbelts.

    In Southern Alberta, there are six school districts representing 101 schools and more than 29,000 students, including 66 Colony schools. More than 7,000 student contacts are made with each in-school program annually, and more than 2,000 children practice pedestrian and bicycle safety at the Safety City Training Facility each year. All the instruction is offered free of charge and is booked on a first come-first scheduled basis.

  • Piedmont Interstate Fair
    Spartanburg, South Carolina

    The Piedmont Interstate Fair partners with The Baptist Network or an individual church to provide services to traveling carnival workers when they are in Spartanburg. The purpose of the ministry is to show the carnival workers that they are an important and appreciated part of the annual fair.

    The services that the church offers are numerous and have been provided in this form since 2009. During set-up day, the fair and church provide a hot lunch, which usually consists of hamburgers and hotdogs, baked beans, slaw and desserts. During the fair, the church has a booth at the fair where free drinks and homemade snacks are offered and workers can bring any problems they might be experiencing. Free haircuts are offered to all workers on one day of the fair. Health issues are addressed and include free transportation and appointment setting with local doctors. The organization tries to help with dental work whenever a carnival worker is experiencing tooth pain. One year, a church member noticed a carnival worker that had his thick glasses held together by duct tape. The ministry offered an appointment with an eye doctor and paid for new glasses. The program assists an estimated 100-125 people each year.

  • Minnesota State Fair
    St. Paul, Minnesota

    The Minnesota State Fair staff participates in a program that is designed to give back to the community in a wide variety of ways. Each month, a new cause is chosen for staff members to dedicate time and effort toward. The program is called "MSF Gives Back."

    In February, MSF Gives Back focused on a Four Legged Food Drive. Pets living with owners on the streets often survive on a limited amount of food. Staff members made donations of pet food, flea/tick treatment, treats, collars, leashes and other pet supplies to a local food shelf to benefit the pets of the impoverished.

    In March, MSF Gives Back provided outreach to Second Harvest Heartland, the largest hunger relief organization in the Upper Midwest. The goal of the organization is to not only feed hungry individuals today, but to also provide means for everyone to be fed tomorrow. Fair staff volunteered two full days in March. The fair provided 25 volunteers each day to help sort, label, and package the donated food, which was sent to local food shelves and soup kitchens.

    In April, the fair staff will host a children's book drive for the Learning Disabilities Association (LDA) Minnesota and the Minnesota Literacy Council. In June, the fair staff will work with Erik's Ranch. The staff will participate in a tour conducted by one of Erik's guides, who are young adults with autism spectrum disorder and are passionate about the subject matter of the tour.

    The staff will be the guests on the tour of The University of Minnesota Gopher Football stadium, TCF Bank Stadium. The program allows Erik's Ranch guides to use their talents and expertise to lead people on outings in specific areas within the arts, history, sports, environment, or whatever their passion.

  • East Texas State Fair
    Tyler, Texas

    The East Texas State Fair hosts an Academic Rodeo for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. When the Academic Rodeo began in 1991, it consisted of only two contests: Art and Writing for students in the local school district. The program quickly expanded its eligibility to all East Texas public, private, and home schools and special organizations like 4-H. In 2014, the Academic Rodeo consisted of 14 competitive academic events and included a teacher recognition program. The contests are a mix of individual and team activities with one performance opportunity. Content varies from contest to contest, but includes art, computer skills, math science, writing, history and social studies, current events, clothing construction, consumerism, engineering, theater, and spelling. This year, more than 1,300 students participated, representing more than 1,600 entries from 70 schools or groups.

    East Texas State Fair

    Awards are presented for each contest at an awards celebration at the conclusion of the year's events. Middle and high school students who place in their contest are eligible to apply for scholarships totaling $11,000 each year.