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Former State Fair youth livestock and FFA competitions still scheduled for Rockingham County in October

The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation announced Friday that it has formed a new partnership with Tennessee-based Universal Fairs LLC. The new organization will be called Commonwealth Fairs and Events LLC. Officials with Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm advocacy organization, say the new partnership will run the State Fair of Virginia as well as other shows and events at the 331-acre Meadow Event property in Caroline County.

“Being the state’s largest farm organization, and having as part of our mission the preservation of agriculture, we felt it was paramount to step up to the plate and assist with the fair,” said VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor. “It is a vital tool for helping the public understand the importance of the agriculture industry.”

The new State Fair of Virginia is scheduled this fall from Sept. 28 through Oct. 7.

This development will not, however, interfere with the newly formed Virginia Junior Livestock Expo (VJLE) scheduled for the Rockingham County Fairgrounds in Harrisonburg Oct. 11-14 according to Greg Hicks, communications director of Virginia Farm Bureau.

“We have no plans to conduct competitive youth livestock events at the new State Fair,” said Hicks. “We will have Virginia farmers bring in animals including cattle, sheep, poultry and other species for exhibit purposes. This will be more of an educational feature of the Fair than a statewide, competitive, youth livestock event,” said Hicks.

The VJLE (a totally separate event from the State Fair of Virginia) will serve as the culminating activity for youth livestock projects and will replace the junior livestock show activities that were previously held annually at the State Fair of Virginia in Doswell.  Officials with VJLE expect approximately 500 exhibitors at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds in the central Shenandoah Valley. Upwards of 1,000 young people involved with FFA may also be a part of the event.

Officials with the Rockingham County Fair Association, site of the 2012 Virginia Junior Livestock Expo, welcomed the news of the newly formed partnership between Virginia Farm Bureau and Universal Fairs LLC.

“We think this new partnership will continue the tradition of emphasizing agriculture at the State Fair, while allowing the statewide youth livestock competitions and FFA events to take place in the Shenandoah Valley, where the majority of livestock are raised in Virginia,” observed Jeff Ishee, general manager of the Rockingham County Fair Association. “We look forward to welcoming all VJLE participants to the Shenandoah Valley in mid-October and we promise to host a first-class event emphasizing young people involved in Virginia agriculture,” said Ishee.

The Virginia Junior Livestock Expo will be open to all Virginia 4-H and FFA members and will offer market and breeding shows for beef cattle, swine, sheep, and meat goats, as well as a stockman’s contest. Various other agricultural contests and events will include a crops contest, junior forester contest, horticulture demonstration, and agriscience demonstration. Virginia FFA will also host its state small-engines contest, tractor-troubleshooting contest, and forestry field day.

For more information regarding the Virginia Junior Livestock Expo and sponsorship opportunities, contact Dr. Paige Pratt, youth livestock Extension specialist, at 540-231-4732.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell extended congratulations to Farm Bureau on the partnership (with Universal Fairs LLC), which he said “will further enrich the commonwealth’s long-standing tradition that is the State Fair of Virginia.”

“For more than 100 years, the state fair has educated and entertained millions of Virginians. Today’s announcement helps to ensure that future generations of Virginians will continue to experience the best of what the fair has to offer. In addition, the Farm Bureau’s investment will guarantee that agriculture, Virginia’s largest industry, will be featured prominently—as it should be—at the fair for years to come,” McDonnell said.

New agriculture-related events being planned at the State Fair of Virginia include a five-kilometer race sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, which strives to improve the farm literacy of schoolchildren, as well as the Real Virginia Virtual Farm Tour. The tour will engage families at the fair and at home with a live online discussion about farming practices. Viewers will have their questions answered by a panel of farm experts and will “tour” a half-dozen Virginia farms via video. At each farm, the owners will be on camera to describe their operations.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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