Do you think your urban neighbors would have a different opinion of agriculture if they could experience some of the things you do each year to raise a crop? The Indiana Soybean Alliance is betting they just might have a better appreciation for what farmers do if they experienced soybean harvest.
No, they won’t actually come to your farm to drive the combine. But they can operate the new combine simulator installed this summer inside the Glass Barn, ISA’s showcase at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
Matt Keller with ISA says sitting in the simulator will be the closest anyone can come to experiencing operating a real combine in a real field to harvest soybeans. Parts of real combines and a big dose of virtual reality video were combined to form the new exhibit, Keller says.
“We want to focus more on showing people the steps that growers go through to produce crops, and this is the first big change inside the building to help us do that,” he explains. Keller believes people will feel like they’re actually in a soybean field.
Installing the simulator as the centerpiece of the building meant rearranging several other exhibits, Keller says. However, the other displays and interactive exhibits are still there, perhaps just in a different location or a slightly different form.
The farming simulator exhibit is popular, and there will still be three stations where players can see what it’s like to engage in various aspects of farming, Keller notes. Kids often flock to the grocery center, where they can pretend they’re at a grocery store and learn about soybean products they might find there. That exhibit will still be up and running as well.
And if you like trying out different get-ups in the photo booth, don’t despair. It’s back again for another run inside the Glass Barn. “It has proven to be one of our most popular exhibits at the fair,” Keller says. “People like to email their photos to their friends and relatives.”
Another innovative exhibit in the Glass Barn is the video chats with farmers. This has been a staple of the facility since it opened and will be back again this year, Keller says.
Typically, five different farm families are featured through video in this display area on different days during the Indiana State Fair. At 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. EDT each day, the farmer featured that day will be on his or her farm, wherever it is in Indiana, ready to do a live question-and-answer session with visitors to the fair. Designed to help consumers get a better feel for what farmers do, it’s open to anyone who wants to participate.
The 2021 Indiana State Fair runs July 30 through Aug. 22. The fair will be closed each week on Monday and Tuesday.