The Indiana Soybean Alliance just wrapped up its third year of promoting soybeans and technology education with the Glass Barn at the Indiana State Fair. The futuristic building features displays that let consumers without any knowledge of farming get a taste for what farming is like.
"We wanted to emphasize the live chats with farmers this year," says Megan Kuhn, communications specialist with the Indiana Soybean Alliance. "We advertised it more around the grounds, and encouraged fair visitors to ask more questions."
Each of five farmers participated in live chats from their farm during the fair. Three chats were held via Internet per day. The Glass Barn also hosted a fourth chat that was truly live with the Farmer of the Year representative during the day.
Typically, the farmers took turns as to who would be the person standing by for the live chat each day. Positioned at their home farm, they might stand by sweet corn, field corn or soybeans, and explain the basics about what they do. Or since some are heavily involved in livestock, they sometimes positioned themselves with animals in the background.
Our only chance to see a 'live chat' in action was on the morning of Farmers Day, Wednesday, Aug. 19. Unfortunately, it was one of the lightest-attended days of the fair. With schools back in session, gone are the days when Farmer's Day was the big draw for the fair, at least for now.
Some 15 people, including kids, gathered in We Grow Theater, featuring soybean-shaped seats, to see a farmer live on the screen, talking in real time. He was able to receive and answer questions live as well.
The Indiana Soybean Alliance has used this format since the Glass Barn opened in 2013. Three farmers were part of the live chat rotation the first year. Two more were added to the existing three farmers last year. This year the same five farmers who participated in 2014 also participated in 2015.