Plymouth County Fair’s round barn gets new focus
By JOLENE STEVENS
LE MARS – Plymouth County’s agricultural leaders, confident in the county’s reputation as one of Iowa’s leaders in agricultural production, are wrapping up their efforts to give even more polish to the county’s image.
A project sponsored jointly by the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce, its Agricultural Committee and the Plymouth County Fair Board, with support of commodity organizations and agribusinesses is an interactive agricultural educational exhibit in the famed Round Barn on the southwest edge of the fairgrounds.
The opening of the exhibit will coincide with the 2014 Plymouth County Fair, which runs from Wednesday through Sunday.
Tony Schroeder, fair board president, said he was part of the 1980 relocation of the barn from along U.S. Highway 75, across from Bob’s Drive-In in Le Mars.
Schroeder said the three sponsoring groups are focused a need for change the barn’s use as the site for the fair’s “Christmas in July” display for the past five years.
“We all realize the barn has a certain nostalgia about it,” Schroeder said. “It has uniqueness and is a symbol of pride within our community.
“We know, too, the barn stands tall in its relationship to agriculture in Plymouth County and the area. We know about the past and where we’ve come in agriculture, but planning members feel the importance of looking ahead to the future.”
The goal is educating young people, and the public in general, on what is involved in modern-day agriculture to transform Iowa’s raw products – corn, soybeans and livestock – into food on consumer menus.
Helping to solidify the overall exhibit goal, Schroeder said, has been a $4,750 Plymouth County Farm Bureau grant to the Chamber’s Ag Committee for the project.
Additional funding also came from the county’s local option sales tax.
“It’s been a great marriage of cooperative interest and action within supporters of the project,” Schroeder said. “There are so many families today who are two and three generations removed from the farm.
“They haven’t got a clue to what goes on.”
He said the fair board, Chamber ag committee, commodity groups and industry sponsors see the new exhibit offering a look into modern agriculture.
Dennis Morrice, a member of the ag committee, echoed Schroeder’s enthusiasm for the exhibit. He pointed to volunteerism underway to turn the project into reality.
Members of the Le Mars FFA Chapter crafted the barn’s ag exhibit’s welcome sign, while members of the Kingsley-Pierson and Akron-Westfield FFA chapters are contributing soybeans and corn, respectively, for use in the varied exhibits.
The numerous volunteers assisting with final barn renovation include young people and adults from throughout the community.
Younger members of the work force, Morrice said, are excited about what’s to be seen and done when the exhibit opens.
This includes a virtual simulator, Ag Cab Lab, that allows visitors to try their own skills at driving a tractor in simulator crop production, with use of global positioning and other technology.
Schroeder said he visualizes young people will take their excitement home to share with their parents, prompting additional interest in agriculture among adults coming to the fair.
Morrice said he hopes the exhibits will show the boost value-added agriculture provides to Plymouth County.
“Take for instance that while a lot of people enjoy Well’s Blue Bunny Ice Cream they don’t think of Well’s as an agri-related business,” Morrice said. “Nor does everyone perhaps realize the economic contribution of Remsen Processing.
“There are numerous other examples as well when you stop to consider the combination of factors involved, including providing employment and putting money back into our respective communities.”
Paul Jacobson, of American Bank, in Le Mars, and chairman of the ag committee, said, “The Chamber has watched for years the success of the Plymouth County Fair.
“Our working relationship with the fair board has been a good one, and we were receptive to the board’s idea for the new project.
“We see the project as a means of bridging the gap on the knowledge of agriculture in the county and of its agri-related business partners and strengthening our local agriculture over-all throughout future years.”
Surveying the Plymouth County Fairgrounds nearing readiness to accept this year’s fair visitors, Schroeder said, “Everyone is excited. It’s the same every year when people begin coming through the gate, like a family reunion.
“We’ve had new kids coming into 4-H or FFA, and our entry numbers are up again this year, some steady, some a little higher when you balance them all out.
“The enthusiasm getting ready for this year’s run has been overwhelming in that so many people approach us as to how they can help and jump at the chance to come out as volunteers.
“As I see it, it’s a matter of their pride in the fair and what it means to all of us.”
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