While many attractions at the Jackson County Fair delight patrons with bright colors and flashing lights, the Rogue Valley Food System Network exhibit begins at ground level, literally.
The "Planting the Seeds of Your Health" exhibit will expand upon its display from last year. Designed as a path, the display leads fair-goers through the farm-to-table process. The installation focuses on whole foods, food security, supporting local farmers, preserving local farmlands, responsible waste management and making healthful food choices.
The fair opens its doors at The Expo in Central Point at 11 a.m. Wednesday and is open to 11 p.m., with the same hours through Saturday. Sunday's hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Kids 12 and under are admitted free, thanks to a grant from the West Family Foundation, and adults 75 and older are also admitted without charge. Cost is $10 at the gate for those 13 to 61 years old and $6 for ages 62 to 74.
Once fairgoers have paid the entrance fee, there are a variety of free events, including free lawn seating at the evening concert and free admission to Wednesday night's bull riding. The Food System Network exhibit is also free.
Beginning with the farm stage, the food exhibit illustrates the progression from production to distribution, including how our local produce is cleaned and packaged. From there, the exhibit shows the consumption stage, and visitors will have the chance to watch cooking demonstrations and sample the food. The installation also educates visitors about waste, including how to properly dispose of food in a way that is environmentally and socially conscious.
Rogue Valley Food System Network is a coalition of local organizations that work on various aspects of the food system. The network connects health care groups, farms, food businesses and more, and seeks to educate the community about resources and sustainable food. The exhibit incorporates other local organizations such as Thrive, an initiative that connects local farms and businesses.
Rogue Valley Food System Network coordinator Regan Emmon says one goal of this year's display is to showcase the importance of eating and buying whole foods, and their impacts on both health and community.
"We want people to know about (the food system) and understand it, and the problems going on in our food system," Emmons says. "There are a lot of consequences that play out in the environment and our health."
Part of the exhibit is geared toward how to make healthier choices and how to support local farms using sustainable practices.
"A lot of people experience severe health problems," says Emmons, citing diabetes, hypertension, heart problems and obesity as being among illnesses that are related to eating processed foods.
The exhibit will include cooking demonstrations where fair-goers can learn and taste samples from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Participants will receive $5 food vouchers redeemable at any of the four Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters markets.
The exhibit is open until 8 p.m. daily — 7 p.m. on Sunday — in the Mace Watchable Wildlife Memorial Building.
Fairgoers can also visit the Dirt Park in the Seven Feathers Event Center to learn about composting, soil-web building and rainwater catch systems, while plant enthusiasts can visit horticulture displays in Padgham Pavilion.
Reach reporting intern Hannah Golden at firstname.lastname@example.org.