Virginia Tech's 2004 Farm & Family Showcase Cancelled... Strong Hopes for a 2005 Revived Showcase
Livestock Update, April 2004
Dr. Dwight Paulette, College Farm Coordinator, Virginia Tech Kentland Farm, 5250 Whitethorne Road, Blacksburg, VA 24060, PHONE: 540-731-1289, FAX: 540-731-9353, E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite successive growth which exceeded expectations in its first three years, the Farm & Family Showcase at Virginia Tech's Kentland Farm has been cancelled for September, 2004. Unexpected weather-related costs and reductions in overall available funding, as well as rising operational costs have made it necessary to put the event on hold for this calendar year. Showcase participants and visitors alike have expressed disappointment upon hearing of the cancellation; however the Director and Master Planning Committee are optimistic about a 2005 event.
The number of visitors in attendance, the variety and number of exhibitors, as well as the on-going demonstrations and workshops grew with each of the three annual Showcases. Revenues also increased, but not in sufficient amounts to counter the unexpected expenses related to last September's rainfall. The upcoming months will be used to evaluate the past financial costs, to find new sponsorships, to define a more comprehensive budget, and to organize an even stronger, more extensive Showcase event for 2005.
The Farm & Family Showcase began in 1999 during a planning meeting for a field day, a traditional outreach program, to bring Virginia farmers and agriculturalists to Tech's largest research facility. As ideas were formed and enthusiasm grew, it was realized that the scope of educational opportunity was as varied as the audiences to be served. The initial Showcase of September, 2001 attracted 12,000 visitors in two days, including fourth-graders for whom a special program aligned with the state SOL's was developed. The three-day 2003 Showcase served 40,000 visitors from Virginia and the region, with nearly 300 exhibitors from across the country.
The Farm & Family Showcase brought together many programs offered by the University, involving the colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Human Resources and Education, and Natural Resources. The Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and the Division of Continuing Education also made significant contributions to the event programming. Featured information, presented in a wide variety of methods, targeted the farmer and landowner as well as the homeowner and consumer. Perhaps most popular of all, were the children's programs and activities which represented a strong component of the Showcase plans and emphases. University student organizations not only served as instructors for the children's programs, but were involved in every aspect of the Showcase. State and Federal agencies, sponsors and exhibitors, small-business owners, and corporate industry, along with related organizations and associations played a large role in the development and implementation of the Showcase.
The Showcase director, Dwight Paulette, is optimistic about this educational outreach event, " I thought it would take six or seven years to reach 40,000 people. It is my hope that the Showcase will return in 2005, and that it will be stronger than ever." Traditionally attuned to the needs and interests of the commercial farmer, the Showcase Master Planning Committee targeted programs for the non-farmer and consumer audiences as well. Pleased with the diversity of visitors, Showcase organizers hope to make efforts for the ever-increasing numbers of suburban homeowners while continuing to target the traditional commercial agricultural producer. A more recently developing target audience would be the persons migrating to rural areas and referred to as life-style farmers living on small acreages.
Additional information regarding the history and scope of the Showcase can be found at the Showcase website: www.farmandfamily.vt.edu
Also available on a separate website is information on the Kentland Research Farm, its purpose and function within the university: www.collegefarm.vt.edu
Individuals and groups interested in participating and/or supporting the 2005 Farm & Family Showcase are invited to send comments or questions to: