Fairs across the country have become an American tradition, right up there with baseball and apple pie. Every year, fairs pop up throughout the small towns and larger urban areas in Mississippi.
A’Fair on the Square, the Hernando craft show held each May, grows each year in not only craft vendors, but agriculture education. The DeSoto County Farm Bureau is lucky to have an office in a prime fair location. That means an opportunity to showcase farming and agriculture to thousands on this day in DeSoto County.
Deniese Swindoll, the DeSoto County Farm Bureau Women’s Chair and a member of the State Women’s Leadership Committee, organizes DeSoto County Farm Bureau’s A’Fair on the Square booths.
Inside the small DeSoto County Farm Bureau parking lot, visitors can milk a cow, see how cotton is ginned, find out how rice is grown and discover all the products made from soybeans. Visitors also have the opportunity to see and pet chickens, rabbits and cows.
“We try to bring the farm to the city with this demonstration because so many people are so far removed from the farm,” Denise says. “We try to educate both children and adults about agriculture. We do this by having lots of hands on activities for the children to see and participate in.”
Denise’s family grows soybeans, rice and corn in DeSoto, Tunica and Tate counties, so she knows the importance of educating the general public about agriculture. She believes the task is even more important due to the many changes her home county as seen in the last several years.
“We used to be a large dairy area, but all of those dairy farms have fallen by the wayside,” Denise says. “I feel like a lot of the children today are far removed from the farm. It is really important to get into the schools and to do events like this to educate children and adults about where we get our food, fiber and shelter from.”
The DeSoto County Farm Bureau women have turned a day of shopping for local crafts or a family day together into an opportunity to brag about agriculture.
“So many times, the children who visit us have never even seen a real cow, so it’s an exciting experience for them,” Denise says. “They get to see chickens, watch cotton being ginned, lip balm being made from soybean oil and beeswax, and we talk about rice. Every opportunity we have to educate is all worth it. “