Farm Bureau enters state fair partnership to preserve event’s agriculture focus

RICHMOND—To help preserve the tradition of the State Fair of Virginia, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation has entered into a formal partnership with Universal Fairs LLC of Cordova, Tenn.

Called Commonwealth Fairs and Events LLC, the new partnership will run the state fair and other shows and events at the 331-acre property in Caroline County. This year’s state fair will run from Sept. 28 through Oct. 7.

“Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and Universal Fairs have put together a partnership that we feel will help retain and grow the agricultural component of the fair,” explained VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor. “Universal Fairs has a proven track record of putting on successful fairs in several locations around the country.” UF’s events include large fairs in Tennessee, Georgia and Washington state, a festival in Arizona and a variety of shows and expos throughout the United States.

“Universal Fairs has extensive experience in running family-friendly, entertaining fairs, and Virginia Farm Bureau brings an exciting agricultural component to the mix,” said UF President Mark Lovell. “We are new to Virginia, but we know how to run a fair. … I think that by working together we can help strengthen Virginia’s agricultural stature and visibility through various shows, events and exhibits.”

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell extended congratulations to Farm Bureau on the partnership, which he said “will guarantee that agriculture, Virginia’s largest industry, will be featured prominently—as it should be—at the fair for years to come.”

New agriculture-related events being planned include a 5-kilometer race sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, which strives to improve the farm literacy of schoolchildren, as well as the Real Virginia Virtual Farm Tour. The tour will engage families at the fair and at home with a live online discussion about farming practices. Viewers will have their questions answered by a panel of farm experts and will “tour” a half-dozen Virginia farms via video. At each farm, the owners will be on camera to describe their operations.

“Being the state’s largest farm organization, and having as part of our mission the preservation of agriculture, we felt it was paramount to step up to the plate and assist with the fair,” Pryor said. “Equally important to us is retaining the scholarship programs for youth who compete in livestock and equine shows through the FFA and 4-H organizations. We also plan to continue competitions in photography, arts and crafts and other disciplines.”

A state fair has been held in Virginia for most of the past 150 years.

Contact Greg Hicks, VFBF vice president of communications, at 804-290-1139.

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