The Missouri State Fair offers countless opportunities to see and learn about the best the state has to offer in agriculture.
This year a new opportunity has cropped up for the very young and young at heart to learn more about livestock with the Barnyard Story Time presentations at the Kid’s Stage.
“We wanted to find a fun way to educate smaller children about livestock and get them interested in all different kinds of farm animals,” Darby Schmidt, a marketing intern for the Fair, said. “It’s a new program and our audiences are getting bigger and bigger with every show.”
As part of the show, FFA or 4-H students are asked to read a book about their favorite farm animal and then discuss the animal, which often makes an appearance on stage at the conclusion of the story.
All of the students who read a book were chosen based on the recommendation of their sponsors or because they have exhibited livestock at the Fair in prior years.
“I really wanted to take part in this because I’m passionate about educating people of all ages,” Abby Bertz, an FFA and 4-H member and exhibitor, said. “This is a great opportunity for me to have the chance to do that and hopefully spark the interest in the little ones.”
Bertz read “Sarah the Showman” by Rachel Cutrer, which she described as one of her favorites.
“It tells the true story of a little girl named Sarah who has to deal with a lot of failure before she succeeds,” Bertz said. “It talks about all the hard work that goes into raising and showing an animal and I think it’s important that children understand that it doesn’t just happen overnight.”
In the story, Sarah lines up her calf, Mary Poppins, backward in one show and places sixth, receiving a green ribbon.
Sarah is disappointed but continues to work with her calf until she makes it to the All American Cattle Show.
In the book Sarah works with her family, who tell her it doesn’t matter if she wins or loses, they are proud of her no matter how she finishes.
For sisters Lily and Morgan Eaton, one of the best parts of the performance was having the chance to have their questions answered by Bertz, who interacted with the audience throughout the performance.
“I really liked the book the most,” Morgan Eaton said with a smile. “It was really good.”
Her little sister agreed, adding that the ending was the best part.
“One of the things we have for the older kids and their parents is our ‘Let’s Talk Livestock’ program,” Schmidt said. “With Barnyard Story Time we hope we can interest an even younger generation.”
For a listing of Barnyard Story Time presentation check the Missouri State Fair schedule of events.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.