Thousands participate in Ag Day at the Pavilion

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- More than 2,000 young consumers and their families took part in this year's Ag Day at the Pavilion to learn more about where their food comes from.

Families got to meet some farm animals at Ag Day at the Pavilion in Sioux Falls, S.D., on March 18. (Michelle Rook/Special to Agweek)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - More than 2,000 young consumers and their families took part in this year's Ag Day at the Pavilion to learn more about where their food comes from.

The 14th annual event was held at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, S.D., on March 18. It attracts families from Sioux Falls and the surrounding communities and featured more than 50 agricultural vendors with hands-on activities to teach the kids about farming.

Rebecca Christman with Ag United for South Dakota says they were making total mixed ration snack bags at their booth.

"We talked about the ingredients that cows eat and how the foods that they eat produce meat and milk. With the students, we talked about putting corn pops in for the corn, we put in pretzels for the alfalfa, and popcorn for our protein source," she says. "I hope that the kids learn a little bit more about where their food comes from and thinking about that food doesn't just show up on the grocery store shelf."

At the South Dakota Soybean booth, the kids met farmers who tested their farm knowledge through a fun game in which they could win prizes. Jeff Thompson with the South Dakota Soybean Association says they are targeting the youth because so many of them are several generations from the farm and get much of their information on agriculture from social media. "We need to get them trained earlier and get the information to them early so they can be well informed and grow from there," he says.


He wants the kids and their parents to know that he and his family eat the same food they do. "I'm a farmer you know, trying to relate one-on-one with them and to have confidence in us and know that food is safe. It's the same food I eat."

The South Dakota Farm Bureau booth featured beef production. Students could watch a short video of a calf being born and learn about how farmers mark calves at birth so they can identify the cow-calf pairs in the herd.

"We let all of the kids make an ear tag keychain or backpack decoration. They can put their own brand on this," says Cindy Foster with the South Dakota Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Team.

The most popular part of their display was the live lambs they could pet to find out more about sheep wool production.

Ag Day at the Pavilion is a way to celebrate agriculture and emphasize the importance of the industry to Sioux Falls and surrounding communities, according to Erica Lacey with the Washington Pavilion.

"It's great for them to see first-hand, get up close and personal with some of the furry ag friends that we have, the animals, and also see where their food, fiber and fuel comes from," she says.

And Lacey says for many students and their families, this was their first experience with agriculture.

"Sometimes they don't know where carrots come from, where milk comes from, that it comes out of a cow, and the process that it takes to get it to their table or to the grocery store where they think this all comes from," Lacey says.


It may also be the first time they get to meet a real farmer.

"You get that first-hand experience with the farmers, asking them questions, and the folks that come out and participate in our booths are very open. They're great at engaging with the kids and helping them learn," Lacey says.

Lily Perry, of Sioux Falls, has attended Ag Day at the Pavilion the last two years. She says she enjoys the many hands-on activities because they help her to learn. She also appreciated the chance to meet area farmers and learn more about what they do on their farms.

"Farmers are a big key to the society because you never get things out of thin air. I mean it has to be grown," she says.

Ag Day at the Pavilion is supported by many South Dakota farm groups and agri-businesses. They also sponsor a free lunch featuring South Dakota made products, like South Dakota State University ice cream.

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