“Dirt to dinner” is the concept presented to the students — and adults — who attend Aggie Days, the free agricultural educational trade show.
The aim is to show people “where food comes from,” says Doug Kryzanowski, marketing manager for Exhibition Park.
The 12th annual edition of the event, once again presented by UFA, will come to Exhibiton Park April 24 and 25, running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. The show is interactive and educational, giving young people an opportunity to learn and experience all aspects of agriculture.
“It’s a really community-minded show,” says Kryzanowski, noting Exhibition Park donates the booth space to the exhibitors, who in turn donate their time to help educate the public about the agriculture sector and how it relates to them through the food that winds up on their plates. That “dirt to dinner” connection is something children might not stop to consider.
“It’s easy for a young person to think food comes from the grocery store,” says Kryzanowski, who adds that once they see the source of their food, “it piques their interest and educates them.”
The many participants involved in putting on Aggie Days “do a five-star job of educating our youth,” Kryzanowski says.
For urban youth whose families may have no connection to agriculture, Aggie Days is a great opportunity to experience some of the elements of farm life up close, including the animals, which are always a big hit with youngsters. Like baby chicks, for example.
“They see them on TV but to actually hear them chirping away” — that’s the sort of special experience Aggie Days offers, says Kryzanowski.
Aggie Days has grown dramatically since it began. The first show attracted about 1,700 visitors, says Kryzanowski. “Now, it’s well over 5,000 in the two days.”
Students make up a large portion of the attendees. Invitations are sent out to each school division to send classes to tour the show, and organizers expect up to 40 schools to take part. But it’s open to the public, too, and parents are encouraged to bring their kids to come and learn about agriculture — and mom and dad might learn something, too.
Kryzanowski is convinced the movement encouraging people to be more aware of where their food comes from, and the growing desire for locally sourced food, is a big reason for the popularity of the local farmers’ markets each summer. The Saturday farmers’ market at Exhibition Park typically attracts some 5,000 visitors each week and the more recent Wednesday downtown market sees about 1,000 people each week. The markets have benefitted from a growing number of people wanting to know where their food comes from.
Students who visit Aggie Days get more than a hands-on look at agriculture. They also have their names entered into a draw for a chance to win one of the two $500 RESPs given away by Exhibition Park and UFA.