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State Fair of Virginia’s agricultural offerings to include pumpkin weigh-in, virtual farm tours

state fair of virginiaThe State Fair of Virginia’s 10-day run begins Sept. 23, and this year’s fair offers an expanded lineup of agricultural activities.

Fairgoers can educate themselves about Virginia agriculture and forestry through numerous attractions including live animal competitions and exhibits to creative art and culinary contests.

“At the State Fair of Virginia, visitors have the opportunity to experience agriculture in a fun setting and discover how it impacts their daily lives,” said Marlene Jolliffe, the fair’s executive director. “In between feasting on fair food and taking a spin on rides, we hope people will stop by the many agricultural attractions and talk to a farmer or two.”

The fair kicks off with a celebration of Virginia dairies running the weekend of Sept. 23-25. The Dairy Days promotion will help promote the Federation of Virginia Food Banks’ Milk for Good initiative.

In partnership with FVFB, The Dairy Alliance, the Virginia State Dairymen’s Association and the Dairy Club at Virginia Tech, the State Fair will offer dairy-related attractions in the Meadow Pavilion. It also will sell frosty milkshakes with proceeds benefiting Milk for Good.

Additional dairy activities including competitions, calf births and milking demonstrations will take place at the SouthLand Dairy Farmer Center and The Meadow’s livestock barns.

Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, which owns the State Fair, will host an interactive educational display in the Meadow Pavilion. Fairgoers may take virtual farm tours in the Farm Tour Tractor Cab and learn about Virginia commodities at the farm product kiosk.

The popular Young MacDonald’s Farm returns with sliding ducks, hatching chicks and other farm animals in the family-focused Harvest Landing area. Guests in this area also can test their agricultural knowledge through a trivia game. The giant pumpkin and watermelon weigh-off takes place on Sept. 24.

The fair’s horticulture tent will showcase products of farms and home gardens including crops like corn, tobacco and wheat. Additionally, this is where fairgoers can see the winning giant pumpkin, which in some years has weighed more than 1,000 pounds.

Virginia youth will show cattle, goats, sheep and swine during livestock shows that benefit the State Fair youth scholarship program, and fairgoers are encouraged to visit the sale of champions on the fair’s second Saturday. AgriScience, forestry, crop and farm equipment competitions are among other 4-H and FFA events.

The natural resources area also will provide lessons about Virginia’s aquatic species, reptiles and raptors.

In Heritage Village, guests can admire antique tractors, steam engines, home goods and tools, or enjoy demonstrations of centuries-old trades like blacksmithing, glass blowing, rope making and wool spinning.

For more information, visit StateFairVa.org

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.