The Department of Agriculture has a new member of the family to help promote agriculture education to young and old alike.
Visitors to the Missouri State Fair can find him throughout the 11-day event perched atop his crate in the Agriculture building.
Although he is a youngster, born July 24, 2010, he has already made a huge impact on fair-goers of all ages.
Cornelius “Corny” the Cob has become an ambassador for the Department of Agriculture as it looks for new and innovative ways to become more interactive with the younger generation of Missouri farmers.
“Corny has the kids just mesmerized,” Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce said Opening Day of the Missouri State Fair. “There has been a crowd around him all the time of people of all ages.”
The eight-foot-tall talking ear of corn weighs in at 600 pounds and features 800 kernels of corn in 16 rows.
He delivers a nine-minute message filled with fun facts about various aspects of agriculture statewide.
“Corny covers topics across the board,” Fordyce said. “He presents information about agriculture to children in a way that they will be able to retain for the rest of their lives.
“We can program Cornelius to fit any audience,” Fordyce said. “The department plans to use him at different events in the upcoming months including Farm Scape and events in St. Louis and the Lake of the Ozarks.”
Corny is familiar to St. Louis.
He met his friends “Barrel Bob” and “Barrel Betty” from the Missouri Department of Transportation in St. Louis and the three rode to the Fair together.
“I got the call on Monday (Aug. 10) that Corny was ready to be picked up,” Fordyce said. “I wasn’t certain how we were going to get him here.
“I was looking out the window of my office in Jefferson City. I can see the MODOT offices from there. On a whim I called them and asked if they had any trucks going to St. Louis.”
MODOT did and Corny arrived at the Fair two days prior to its start.
Designed by a special effects company from St. Louis, the Department of Agriculture is already making plans for other animatronic characters to help deliver the message of Missouri agriculture.
“Next year we hope Corny’s friend, Sally Soybean, will be at the Fair too,” Fordyce said. “We just feel we have found a great way to get our message out and interact with young children who are the future of agriculture.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484