“This is about quality of life, local prosperity and a happy lifestyle with local food,” said festival organizer Dee Cook, membership development specialist at the Virginia Farm Bureau.
The free event is designed to shed greater light on agriculture in Albemarle County and will feature educational exhibits and demos, live animals from local farms, children’s activities and hayrides.
Cook said it’s important to learn about the benefits of local food and pointed out that when people support local farmers, they are giving money right back to their community.
“This celebration is designed to have a hands-on agriculture experience with the public so they recognize that the future of agriculture is at stake,” Cook said. “When all else fails, food matters.”
Another goal of the event is to educate young people and to create a stronger connection between youths and their food and how it is grown.
“We are trying to educate the parents and kids about agriculture because many are several generations removed from the farms and need to be educated on farming,” said Irvin White, a local farmer and former president of the Albemarle Farm Bureau.
“I hope this event grows so that the farmers know that people care about them,” White added. “The farmers are getting older, so in the future there has to be more from the younger generation interested in farming, as well.”
The event also allows the Farm Bureau to dispel the notion that it is “just an insurance company.”
“We want to bridge the gap and inspire our youth to become engaged in farming endeavors as a business enterprise or source of food for their table,” Cook said. “We are a membership-driven organization.”
The event kicks off Friday with a focus on a farm-to-family dinner with local participating restaurants offering a special dish featuring Local Food Hub products. They are donating a portion of the proceeds to the Farm Bureau’s Agriculture in the Classroom program.
Also on Friday, the Main Street Arena will sponsor a “skate for agriculture education.”
Saturday will be a full day of exhibits, activities, sheep shearing, spinning and weaving, a cow milking contest and more. There also will be cooking demos by local chefs sponsored by Brookville Restaurant.
“We love the purpose and the direction of the event as a whole,” said Brookville’s head chef, Harrison Keevil.
The event draws to a close with music by local farmer and country music singer Tommy Wood at the Main Street Arena.
White said he hopes the community will come out and ask the farmers what they do and how they do it and gain a behind-the-scenes look at local agriculture and where food comes from.
“The Main Street celebration is meant to create a dialogue between the event attendees and the farmers, to educate the public on what is going on in the agricultural world right here in Albemarle County,” he said.
More information is available at www.mainstreetag.org.