SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - We’re now less than seven days away from the 113th installment of the Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport.
The state fair starts next Thursday, October 24 and runs through Sunday, Nov. 10. This year’s fair will feature the annual rodeo and musical acts including Frank Foster, along with the country band Southern Roots and more.
Up to 450,000 people could visit the fair during the 14 days it is open. That’s according to Louisiana State Fair President and General Manager Chris Giordano.
Giordano added that the fair is expected to infuse the local economy with $24 million.
However, that is if Mother Nature cooperates with dry conditions.
Beyond the dollars, cents, and spreadsheets, we're taking a look at the sometimes forgotten origin of state fairs.
Mention a state fair and many of us fondly recall carnival rides and cotton candy. The origin and heart of a state fair, the Agriculture industry, has faded in its importance to this annual event.
That is where the ‘Ag Magic building’ is designed to re-connect kids with agriculture, according to Karen Martin, the 4-H Regional Coordinator at LSU Ag Center.
"They don't realize that this is where it all started and the importance of it. Their daily life is dependent on the agriculture industry."
Martin explained they also have school tours come in during the fair.
“We have about three thousand kids that will come through the building in four different days. And they stop at the different stations and get to learn about agriculture and why it’s important.”
The idea behind Ag Magic: That hands-on, interactive learning can make a visceral connection.
Donny Moon, the Winn Parish Extension Agent at the LSU Ag Center, described one station where kids will stop.
"Like over here we'll have a forestry wildlife educational activity."
Such lessons can create lasting impressions. Just ask 18-year-old Kevon Walton from Mansfield.
“My momma tells me, the fair is not about rides it’s about you getting the meaning and getting the true spirit of what the fair mean(s).”
The steady decline in family farming hasn’t helped, nor has the increasing number of farm consolidations creating fewer but larger operations. It’s little wonder there’s a disconnect between the public and agriculture when you consider, in 1870 nearly half of all U.S. employees worked in the Ag industry.
One hundred and fifty years later it constitutes just 1.6 percent of the country’s workforce.