Coffee County Central High School’s Future Farmers of America Club is part and parcel to the county fair.
Agriculture teacher and club sponsor Lindsey Newman explained that members have various roles in the judging and showing part of the fair, while also partnering with Farm Bureau to promote Ag education with the Amazing Acres Ag exhibit.
“The weekend before the fair, when they accept entries for jams, jellies, baked goods…Our kids volunteer to help superintendents record entries. We are going to a computer system and I foresee them helping a lot with that,” Newman said.
Before the rides are even setup, FFA students are working behind the scene to help setup the exhibit displays. A few more are in the barns helping with animals, showing chickens and rabbits.
For the remainder of the week, club members help out with Amazing Acres.
The Ag exhibit is like a maze with stations that teach children (and adults) information about various agricultural processes.
“My kids tell the people who come through about that commodity or ag-related enterprise. Last year aqua-culture was added,” she said.
“It’s amazing how many people do not understand where their food comes from. We are in some cases a generations from the farm. FFA helps promote Ag literacy.”
In the apple section, children pick apples from a simulated apple tree or pluck eggs from a mock hen’s nest.
“They move to beef cattle and learn that we use beef cattle not just for meat. There are many products that the cattle industry provides ingredients for,” Newman said.
“These are very basic facts that are geared toward a younger audience. They are trying to introduce them to how important agriculture is,” she said.
The exhibit is open Monday through Friday 5-9 p.m. and Saturday 3-9 p.m.
From chickens to funnel cakes 4-H is at home at the fair
Coffee County 4-H participants and parents help make the Coffee County Fair a little sweeter through a partnership with the Rotary Club with the funnel cake stand, while young growers also have the chance to show and sell their plants and chickens.
“They are really excited. They will be bringing spider plants and basil,” said UT Extension Agent Anna Duncan.
The 4-H participants will show their plants, along with a record book full of growing notes to be judged by UT Master Gardeners on Monday of the fair.
On Saturday there will the chick-chain show and absolute auction. All the money from the sales go to the youth that raised the chickens. Chicks this year are Rhode Island Red and Black Sex Link pullets.
In March, participating 4-H members picked up their two-day-old chicks and have cared for the bird for the show.
“We have people come every year for the chick-chain auction,” Duncan said. “People love the quality that they get from the 4-H kids. They know that our 4-H kids are very well educated and they’ll get really good quality birds.”
The five best chickens per person will be shown at 3:30 p.m., Sept. 21.
A staple of any county fair is the funnel cake booth. Locally, the Manchester Rotary partners with 4-H to sell the fried pastry.
“Funnel cakes are awesome,” said UT Extension Director Stephen Harris.
“They’re warm, yet crispy on the outside,” Duncan added. “They’re just chewy enough on the inside. They have that powdered sugar on the top that gets everywhere. After you’ve been to the fair, and it’s hot, you just need that sweet treat to keep that sugar high going.”
For the volunteers it’s a long week of work over a hot fryer.
“There a lot of 4-h volunteers, parents and kids that run the booth. It’s all hands on deck that week,” Duncan said. There’s a lot of mixing, pouring and making change.”
The 4-H half of the proceeds goes to the 4-H program to help provide school programs.
The Master Gardeners will hold a soil quality display this year at the fair..