Grow it, show it, eat it

If you’re looking for a way to teach kids about agriculture, a trip to the N.C. Mountain State Fair is a great way to bring the barnyard closer to home. The N.C. Mountain State Fair (mountainfair.org) will host a variety of activities appropriate for all ages Friday, Sept. 6, through Sunday, Sept. 15.

Families can watch pigs race to the finish line with the popular Hogway Speedway Racing Pigs, a pig-racing group that travels throughout North Carolina and as far as Colorado. The race isn’t just about winning, though — the owner, Brent Cook, has been known to ham it up with creative commentaries.

The fair will also tie in fun and education through multiple events and exhibits. The Science of Ag, presented by Agricadabra, features agricultural specialist Brad Matchett, who will introduce audience members to the world of farming. Families can witness the miracle of birth by checking out the Mooternity Ward, which will feature students and veterinarians assisting live cow births.

Multiple animal showings will be held through the week. Fair-goers can expect to see everything from goats to llamas — and anything in between. Younger children can interact with other kids, both two- and four-legged, at Bill’s Farm Adventure.  The children can enjoy barnyard activities or simply watch as piglets and baby ducks play.

Like most fairs, the Mountain State Fair will host a variety of exhibitions from photography to produce. Children can participate in these competitive exhibitions for hands-on experience in the agricultural world.

Flowers fresh from the classroom

Students at Haw Creek Elementary School are participating in the fair in a different kind of way. Not only will they be able to enjoy the exhibitions and competitions, they’ll be competing in them.

Master Gardener Jane Powell has teamed up with the school, specifically third- and fifth-graders, to grow a flower to submit to this year’s Flower and Garden Show, sponsored by the Buncombe Extension Master Gardeners. The school received a grant from the Master Gardeners to maintain school gardens. Since plant life is a part of the science curriculum, growing and showing the students’ own flowers ties in science with hands-on activities, says Powell.

She explains that competing is a good way to teach students how to sustain plants and increase youth involvement in agriculture. It will also be a good way to help students apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real life.

“The big thing is making the public aware to involve youth in the show … to encourage parents to realize, ‘Hey, they can do this, too,’” says Powell. Parent Lori Cole, Haw Creek Elementary School Principal Ginny Barrett and fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Grafton have helped prepare students for the competition.

The students will participate in two shows. The first public display begins Friday, Sept. 6, and the second Thursday, Sept. 12. The entry deadline for the first show is Wednesday, Sept. 4, and the second is Tuesday, Sept. 10.

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