The Jim Williams family, Franklin, Ind., including several sons, a daughter, and friends, love to show the general public what a working arm community looks like. They've developed a toy farming display so large it takes up about the space of a narrow hay wagon. And they've enclosed it with a red barn motif so passersby can look, not touch.
What's neat is it's on display at the Pioneer Our Land Pavilion at the Indiana State Fair, located close the Administration Building and across from the main Gazebo, which this year sports caricatures of pigs atop the roof. The fair continues through August 22.
"We wanted to do something different to attract attention and create interest amongst the general public," says Rick Kelley, with the Indiana Farm Service Agency. He gives primary credit for the idea to Julia Wickard, state executive director of ISDA. Wickard made information signs and tacked them up around the outside lower portion of the toy 'barn' so that people can learn a little about agriculture as they visit. The big display draws huge crowds, Kelley says. Then some folks filter over to the FSA display, to NRCS or to the Rural Development booth.
A similar display by the Williams family was on exhibit at the Farm Bureau Building on the other side of the track at the fairgrounds for many years. However, because farm nature changed design of their building a year ago, the exhibit no longer fit the theme.
"We asked them to do some special things like include a no-till field and grass waterways," Kelley says. "There's also a water processing plant like one Rural Development might help establish in a rural community."
Kelley was impressed at how many hours it took the family members to set up the display. In fact, he estimates the family invested as much as 100 hours getting everything just right in the exhibit. Toy farm machinery and trucks and cars used in the exhibit are primarily 1/64the scale.
The display includes a farm grain set-up and more of a country elevator set-up where a farmer would deliver grain. It also includes livestock barns.
"We wanted them to include no-till and a few other things because we wanted to draw attention to some of the programs we offer," Kelley says. Our goal is to have them include even more practices of the type of programs our agency funds."