The Indiana State Fair, starting Friday, provides a nearly month-long showcase for Hoosier agriculture. As that industry has changed, its role at the fair has stayed much the same.
Every year, Hoosiers get to try Indiana-grown wares of all kinds at the State Fair. They get to see 4-H participants show off their small flocks and exhibition animals.
What’s interesting, says Indiana State Poultry Association executive vice president Paul Brennan, is that it’s all evolved and modernized far less than the state’s major agriculture sectors themselves.
“Twenty-five years ago, what you saw in terms of poultry at the fair was not the commercial industry,” Brennan says. “And that hasn’t changed. It’s pretty much the same in that regard.”
Indiana is the top duck producer in the country, and also ranks high for eggs and turkeys.
While the fair might not reveal the full scale of that or other industries, such as pork, dairy and beef, Brennan says it does give fair-goers a chance to meet and talk to real farmers and people from agribusinesses.
He says the fair also lets farm advocates talk to policy-makers about issues such as North American Free Trade Act reform, immigrant labor policy and the next Farm Bill.
“There are people that come … and want to engage the overall industry,” Brennan says. “That’s kind of when they do that.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) are among the federal lawmakers set to stop by the state fairgrounds in Indianapolis this month.
See the full Indiana State Fair schedule here. And stay tuned for more stories from the fair, which runs Aug. 4 through Aug. 20.