Massachusetts Agriculture Officials Announce the Start of the Agricultural Fair Season
Season kicks off with the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair this weekend
BOSTON – Friday, May 24, 2013 – With warm weather approaching, officials from the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) are asking residents and visitors to celebrate the great outdoors by visiting one of the 39 agricultural fairs throughout the Commonwealth this year.
Each fair has something for everyone – livestock exhibits, fruit and vegetable competitions, flowers and plants, live music, agricultural demonstrations, foods and children’s activities.
“Agricultural fairs are a great way for everyone to experience Massachusetts’ rich and diverse farming traditions,” said DAR Commissioner Greg Watson. “This season, I encourage everyone to visit a fair near them to see the best our state’s farmers have to offer.”
Agricultural fairs are a long-standing tradition in the United States, with the first one taking place in Massachusetts in 1814.
As the times have changed, so have agricultural fairs. Farming is evolving from traditional growing methods to alternative agriculture practices – and many fairs are showcasing these new farming techniques.
There has also been a shift to providing healthier foods at agricultural fairs. In addition to the customary fair cuisine, there are options such as corn on the cob, salad, veggie burgers, fresh blueberries and apples. Most agricultural fairs focus on serving as much Massachusetts-grown food as possible.
“The fairs across Massachusetts offer many opportunities for 2013. From animals to vegetables to flowers, there will be a lot on display that celebrates our state’s vibrant agricultural community,” said Frostine Bean, president of the Massachusetts Agricultural Fairs Association. “People will have the opportunity to visit many fairs across the state this year, and we encourage people to visit as many as possible.”
This fair season, the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair will present their event for the 39th consecutive year. The idea was presented at a potluck dinner at the home of Henry and Virginia Easterbrooks of Dudley in 1974 and has turned into a local tradition.
Held at the Cummington Fairgrounds, the fair will have sheep on display, dog trials, sheep and fleece auctions, and Leadline horse shows, in addition to various vendors.
DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation and Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community in order to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr and follow us on twitter at @MDARCommish and @massgrown.