Young Illinois State Fair visitors will help plant and harvest crops, feed livestock, and perform other farm activities when they visit the interactive Farmer’s Little Helper exhibit.
The intent is that by playing farmer, youngsters will learn how their food is grown and raised on farms around Illinois.
This year’s fair (Aug. 9-19) will bring a new addition and an expansion to the exhibit: A hog birthing center has been added. Six sows will give birth in the center during the fair.
The Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is moving the center from its long-time location near the grandstand to join the agricultural education exhibit, said Jim Kaitschuk, IPPA executive director. Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board contributed funds for the center.
Fair visitors also will see a larger variety of horsepower at an expanded farm machinery exhibit beside Farmer’s Little Helper.
“My goal is to educate the general public about the investment in agriculture,” said Allen Entwistle, Sangamon County Farm Bureau president. Entwistle is spearheading the machinery exhibit along with Illinois State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick.
The equipment exhibit will offer a variety of tractors and combines, a planter, tillage equipment, grain carts, augers, feed grinders, livestock trailers, sprayers, and a semi-tractor and trailer.
Each implement will have a sign describing the equipment -- and its retail price. Entwistle said some non-farmers are surprised to learn a piece of farm equipment could cost as much as $400,000.
The Farm Bureau stage, inside the Commodity Pavilion, will be the site for interviews with elected officials, fair winners, and other notable guests from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. RFD Radio personalities Alan Jarand and Rita Frazer will interview guests from Aug. 10-16.
Kris and John Parkhurst of the Shanties will return this year to provide musical entertainment on the Farm Bureau stage. They will entertain from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 10-16 in between interviews.
IFB President Philip Nelson again will present framed photographs to the top junior livestock exhibitors during the Sale of Champions on Aug. 14. Photos will be presented to the junior champion and junior reserve champion exhibitors of the steer, barrow, wether, poultry meat trio, meat goat trio, and the meat rabbit trio.
A photo also will be presented to the exhibitor of the supreme champion junior dairy female.
Thirty six teams of Farm Bureau Young Leaders from 32 counties will test their knowledge Aug. 14 during the Agri-Quiz bowl. The event will start at 8 a.m. in the theater of the Illinois Building.
For the second year, the state winners of the Young Leader Achievement Award and the Excellence in Ag Award will be named at 11 a.m. also on the Illinois Building stage.
State Fair “Illinoisans of the Day” will include Marla Behrends of Carlock, veteran farm broadcaster and associate with the Midwest Dairy Association; Lynn Chard of Rochester, Sangamon County Soil and Water Conservation leader and Extension volunteer; and Ken Getz of Morton, a longtime farmer and 4-H leader.
For a schedule of fair events or more information, go online