We’re blessed in Ohio. Be it our natural resources, our climate, our places or our people – we are lucky to live where we do. This summer and fall, each of us has an opportunity to see first-hand the best of each of Ohio’s communities by visiting a fair. Ohio’s 94 county and independent fairs are showcases of our towns and cities and the Ohio State Fair is recognized as one of the top exhibitions in the nation. Together, these events demonstrate all that is good about the places we call home.
Fairs are unique. Before our eyes, we get to watch the future of an industry learn and grow. Food and agriculture is Ohio’s largest industry, accounting for $124 billion and one in every eight Ohio jobs. Fairs are the proving grounds and the learning labs for the next generation of workers and leaders in this industry. We don’t get to watch a 9-year-old future lawyer argue before a judge. But we can watch a teenager pick out an animal; learn how to feed and care for it; prepare and show that animal against his or her peers; and then sell it at a livestock sale, ultimately for consumption by the public. The future of agriculture is on display every day at our county and independent fairs and I hope you’ll take the chance to see it for yourself.
We can learn at our fairs, too. I firmly believe that one of the greatest misunderstood concepts of our time is responsible food production. Only two percent of our population lives on the farm and produces food and other products for the remaining 98 percent. Fairs help to educate everyone about the importance of agriculture and how Ohio’s farmers and producers go to great lengths to produce food and fiber responsibly.
Ohio’s fairs have something for everyone. Entertainment, food, exhibitions, competitions, music, camping, animals – you name it and you can find it on a fairground. It’s a place where people of all ages from different backgrounds with varying tastes can gather together to learn something, see something or do something. People are always happy at the fair. Now doesn’t that sound like a place to go and spend some time? I hope you and your family will make time to do so this year.
David T. Daniels is director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.