State Fair's 'Raising Nebraska' Highlights Food and Families Who Grow It

State Fair's 'Raising Nebraska' Highlights Food and Families Who Grow It

A new exhibit at the Nebraska State Fair will connect consumers with the farmers who raise and grow their food.

Nebraska State Fair Exhibit
Work continues on the new "Raising Nebraska" exhibit at the Nebraska State Fair set to debut Aug. 22. Raising Nebraska will not only tell the story of the state's No. 1 industry, but also explore agricultural research, production and innovation. (Photo by Beth Janning)

"Raising Nebraska: Your food and the families who grow it" is a permanent, year-round agriculture exhibit located in the new Nebraska Building on the Nebraska State Fairgrounds.

Its debut at the Nebraska State Fair Aug. 22-Sept. 1 at Fonner Park in Grand Island, is part of an effort to educate consumers about what Nebraska is doing toward food production and feeding the world and what production agriculture looks like for Nebraska, said Beth Janning, UNL Extension educator, who will be on-site year-round to manage the exhibit and work with visiting groups.

"We are hoping this exhibit allows consumers to realize that farmers are doing the best they can, using technology to produce the best food in the state for our consumers," she said. "We hope consumers will realize the 'farm to fork' process and that our producers care about the food they raise and the animals they care for."

Raising Nebraska will not only tell the story of the state's No. 1 industry, but also explore agricultural research, production and innovation. The learning experience will include a wide range of interactive displays. It features a full-sized pivot-irrigation system, a video theater enclosed in a grain bin, a 50-foot-long floor map of Nebraska, a virtual combine ride, an interactive dinner table and other educational experiences.

"All the exhibits will be interactive," Janning said. "They will also show the science involved with agriculture and showcase what Nebraska agriculture is really about and what we do best. We raise high quality crops and livestock to provide the food, feed and fiber for the world."

While it will make its debut at the 2014 Nebraska State Fair, Janning said the exhibit will also be available throughout the year for school groups, trade teams and other visitors by appointment. It will also be open on Tuesdays from 9-11 a.m. and Thursdays from 2-4 p.m. for anyone wanting to tour the building following the fair this fall. Programs focused on science and Nebraska agriculture are available by appointment.

In addition, the exhibit is looking for volunteers with a passion about Nebraska agriculture to spend some occasional time in the building during the rest of the year, Janning said. Anyone interested, can contact the office.

Raising Nebraska is a collaborative effort of the Nebraska State Fair, which is providing the building; the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for coordinating the efforts of the state's commodity boards; and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which is developing and managing the 25,000 square-foot educational experience area.

UNL's Food Processing Center Display at FFA – 4-H Building

Visitors to the Nebraska State Fair also will have the opportunity to sample many of the food products produced in Nebraska at the UNL Food Processing Center display in the FFA – 4-H Building.

More than 15 food companies will be available to provide samples and information regarding their products from salsa to pickles.

"This exhibit provides visitors with the ability to learn about the many food products produced in Nebraska," said Jill Gifford, manager of the Food Processing Center's National Food Entrepreneur Program.

This is the 19th year for the popular free exhibit. Companies scheduled to participate include: Preferred Popcorn, Chapman; HR Poppin' Snacks, Gibbon; Hiland Dairy Co., Grand Island; Kiehl and Stroh Co., Hastings; Balabans, Henderson; Herbal Gatherings Mustard, Hill's Sunflower Seed Co., Pur Java Coffee, Smoking Gun Jerky & Marinade, Lincoln; Holen One Farms, Loomis; Popcorn County USA, North Loup; Sweet Heat Peppers, Omaha; Country Rhoads, Superior; Mellor Seasoning, Valentine and Wauneta Roller Mills, Wauneta.

The Food Processing Center is nationally recognized for its support of the food industry since 1983. The center has provided technical and business assistance to hundreds of manufacturers throughout the country and in many foreign countries.

UNL Extension is in the university's IANR.

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