Competing in the Ag Commodity Carnival
By KRISS NELSON
DES MOINES – The carnival is a big part of the Iowa State Fair experience.
But this year there’s more than just one carnival for youngsters to enjoy.
The CME Group and the National 4-H Council have been partnering since 2013 to bring the Commodity Carnival to state fairs.
This year’s Commodity Carnival coordinator, Allison Lansman, a student at Iowa State University, and originally from Fort Dodge, said the activity is designed for kids to learn about agriculture commodities.
“It gives a chance for ag-based kids to use their knowledge they have and it’s even good for non-farm kids to have the chance to learn how farmers market their commodities,” said Lansman.
The Commodity Carnival consists of three activities that guide participants through the process of producing and selling livestock.
Lansman said participants use a pink egg that symbolizes a pig.
They fill the egg with corn and then marbles – that represent different inputs used to raise pigs – to make their “pig” grow heavy enough to go to market.
Inputs the children can to choose to fill up their pig include health and nutrition costs, transportation and energy costs, and facility and wage overhead.
“Those are all very important for your animal,” said Lansman.
The participants fill their pig with what they feel is important and then it’s time to weigh it.
If they meet a prescribed weight, they are given a Plinko chip with the price they will be given for their animal at market.
Lansman said they take their chip to the Luck/Risk area.
“At this point, the volunteers like to get down to the kids’ level and really talk to them about the different issues that could occur to either lower or raise the price of their pig,” said Lansman.
Issues including machinery break downs, weather, gas prices and health issues.
The kids drop their chip down the Luck/Risk shoot to see how they fared. Where the chip lands is the price they were given for their pig at market.
Lansman said each participant receives a blue ribbon and a pig hat.
They have the chance to go through again and if they win again, they are awarded a squeeze pig.
“It’s awesome to be here,” said Lansman. “Kids are really excited and it is a different way to teach them about different ag commodities and what situations can occur.”
Brooke Linahon, of Newton, tried her luck at the Commodity Carnival, winning both times and receiving the squeeze pig to add to her pig collection at home.
Being from a city, Linahon said she isn’t familiar with how to raise pigs, but learned a few lessons playing the Commodity Carnival.
“You need to keep a pig healthy and warm at night,” said Linahon.
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