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Twenty-minute barn tours available this year at fair

By SEAN CLOUGHERTY
Managing Editor

HARRINGTON, Del. — Come fair time, FFA members statewide have a lot of jobs to do. For a select group at this year’s Delaware State Fair, tour guide will be added to their list.
New this year, 14 FFA members chosen for the fair’s “Ambassador” program will give 20-minute guided tours that allow patrons to get an up close view of farm animals and livestock activities at the fair.
“We wanted to have a bigger educational opportunity,” said Danny Aguilar, assistant general manager and director of marketing. “This gives us a large personal way to reach out to folks.”
With so much going on at the fair in a given day, Aguilar said the tours are meant to be a quick introduction to fairgoers as to what happens in the livestock barns on the fair, how the animals are cared for and prepared for showing.
“Thirty minutes or longer is a big time commitment for people at the fair,” he said. “We want to get the information out to them as quickly as possible.”
About 10 years ago, the fair had similar barn tours, working with an outside company who staffed the tour guides.
“That was a pretty well-received program and we thought who better than the FFA students to talk about the animals and what’s going on,” he said.
Fairgoers can sign up for a tour when they get to the fair, but Aguilar is encouraging people to register at the fair’s website, to make sure they have a space.
He added that the Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware have responded already by registering for tours for more that 700 of its club members.
Those who are planning to take the tour please meet at the Mann Tharp Pavilion at least five minutes before the start time.
Days for tours are Sunday, July 23 through Saturday July 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. each day.
Along with giving the public quick details on raising livestock, the tour guide ambassadors build on skills they develop through FFA.
Mark Breeding, FFA advisor and agriscience teacher at W.T. Chipman Middle School and a member of the fair’s board of directors said the tours reinforce skills in leadership, personal growth and career success that are the core of FFA.
“That public speaking component is important and we figure this would help them even more by giving the tours,” Breeding said. “It’s exciting.
“This is going to be an opportunity and something they can put on a resumé.
“There’s a lot of kids that wanted to do it but it didn’t fit into their schedule,” Breeding added. “We hope this program takes off and next year we’ll have 30 and so on.”
The tour will so stop at the John Curtis, Sr. Memorial Barnyard on Arena Avenue in the fairgrounds showcasing animals ranging from Miniature Hereford Cows to a donkey and unique chickens to Nigerian Dwarf Goats. The barnyard is overseen by Delaware FFA Chapters.
“We’ve been trying to increase the role of FFA throughout the fair. I want to make sure we’re doing all we can to promote and support FFA and agriculture,” Breeding said.